How Online Algorithms Are Different From Online Learning

In order to thrive in the digital future, education needs to adapt to the ever-changing context of the modern age. In this guest article, Charles McArthur, CEO of Quex’s, highlights how tech platforms, such as Netflix, need to be adjusted to meet the needs of their users.

How Online Algorithms Are Different From Online Learning

The university ecosystem was broken a long time ago. Our primary modes of learning are far from the best possible methodologies for acquiring knowledge. The motivation for an education from any institution was about the connectivity to a centralized online learning solution: LinkedIn, Coursera, Udacity, edX, etc.

The reality, however, is that ebooks and MOOCs have failed to bring students where universities should go. Our institution is not a good enough candidate. Our home campus isn’t interested.

In the digital age, what the whole education ecosystem is doing is wrong. In the most recent changes to K-12 education, it had become crystal clear to everyone that not everyone can afford the expense of going to college. Even though it is the process for all students to obtain the degree, what matters is not the degree but rather being prepared for the field the degree was supposed to prepare us for. So we were able to build a training method called Regal College. The price of tuition for the first year (less than $200) is lower than what any university would charge the next year for an in-state student. Students receive credit for completed work and receive better grades than what they would receive from a university.

The time is right to rethink the entire education ecosystem. With the student body shifting from traditional students to adult learners who aren’t even 18, technology is a good starting point. Learning to code should be something that can be embedded into our culture. Therefore, in our program, we see coding as a learning process. Now we can see that education should not have to be one-way, which may seem like a clear disruptor of the whole education eco-system but in reality, it can bring more efficiency and transparency to the system while also coming in at a much lower cost. One startup that has already implemented this in a way that is significant is Apperian.

Apperian is an example of an education startup that got it right. Founded in 2011, they created an artificial intelligence-powered, programmatic learning platform. “Programmatic” refers to the use of artificial intelligence and other intelligent technologies to automate the process of learning and delivery of content to students.

Two years after creating this new system, their teaching methodology known as “guided learning” was defined by they themselves as “hand-written book with audio, videos, and quizzes”. Today, there are several universities worldwide that use this method to solve education problems.

The platform is set up by an artificial intelligence platform designed for programmatically delivered content. This platform has two main applications for education:

Its first application is for the university community. By using a professional learning management system (LMS), universities like Stanford, Duke, and Emory are able to use AI-powered reading lists and other content that it knows will be relevant to students. For example, just like the popular TED Talks, they can build a library of similar courses. As a student, you just download the course and start taking it.

The second application of the technology is as a learning framework that can be applied to non-university institutions. These institutions can easily build their own learning platforms. They can use the database and learning content of an existing institution, or they can create their own. Based on the ideas demonstrated by Apperian, we can even see the democratization of education. Many types of institutions that had no access to programs because of costs can now build a course for the general public. They can earn a certificate and claim that they have attained a particular skill. So we can see that the centralized online system was counterproductive.

It can be surprising that learning can be done this way. I’ve interviewed some leading scientists and business leaders who say they made a world without the internet. Here’s what they mean: They don’t realize that they don’t need to show a product to test it on their students. That’s a requirement of an industrial production model. In short, you need to show the product before you can use it. But we don’t need to manufacture this kind of product.

We don’t need the same kind of schools that we had a few decades ago. Instead of expensive brick-and-mortar buildings, we need technology that learns and teaches people.

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