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Your Guide to Education in the 21st Century

Say I am a new teacher at a high school with a growing student population, and I’m teaching a class with over thirty students for the first time. I could go join schoolnet.com, which will help me target students who need help as I use the site to manage assignments and grades. Or perhaps I am a college student studying for the next test in my Microbiology course, so I go on quizlet.com, enter in my notes, and play games in which I match up terms and definitions for the class. Or maybe I’m a single mother who doesn’t have the money or time to attend a university or even a community college, so I participate in an online certification program to broaden employment opportunities. In his article, “100+ Resources that are Transforming Education,” Yury Lifshits, former professor and current Yahoo tech guy and blogger, makes sense of the massive jungle of the new, innovative startups and resources cropping up throughout the buzzing field of education technology.

Lifshits breaks down what can be an overwhelming amount of resources and options for those seeking new ways of approaching learning or educating, by organizing the various websites and organizations around what he calls “a short list of basic ideas” the innovation is centered on. However, the list could more accurately be described as a list of innovation methods.

While some companies aim to reform education by founding “New Institutions,” both online (such as Kaplan University, which one may complete courses thoroughly online) and offline (such as ycombinator, which invests in and guides budding startups in a “hacker bootcamp” in Silicon Valley); some work to market software to institutions already in existence to provide innovative options for “Learning Management,” like schoolnet.com.

Meanwhile, others provide “Online Content” to reinvigorate and democratize the educational field, such as Khanacademy.org, which hosts free online video lectures.  As technology advances, the possibilities of realtime online “Tutoring and Training” are expanding (as in Tutorvista.com, where high schools students gain access to tutors for live education).

Learner Tools” such as educational apps and technological based learning–like Twijector.com, where anyone can participate with a lecturer or conference organizer by asking questions or engaging in discussion through tweets–are changing the way students approach material; as are websites that provide “Collaborative Learning,” like LiveMocha.com, where people join online communities to help each other learn (on LiveMocha, someone who wants to learn Japanese can find someone fluent in Japanese who wants to learn English).

Perhaps just on the cusp of innovation are newfound ways to provide “Funding” for students (such as gaining funding through investments in shares of a future student’s salary), but also the “Hardware for Education” itself, One Laptop Per Child, an organization which works to provide children in developing countries with technology, and the Kno, the textbook version of kindle, is changing the way people think about education.

To help anyone interested in new education services navigate many of these options are “Networking and Marketplace” websites that provide listings and linkage for everything from tutoring to choosing a college.

In his article, Lifshits provides a vast, but organized, array of various academic resources, both for students and educators. But beyond that, Lifshits seems to suggest we are currently in a transitional period, in which he foresees more innovation and more promise through newer technology and more creative educational methods. One can only wonder what is to come, and how this is going to effect the institutions and traditions in place, and individuals who have previously had no access to an education and the precious knowledge and experience it has to offer.

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