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School Will Never Be The Same

Close your eyes and think of the word “school.” You are probably imagining classrooms, buildings, or maybe students seating in class. Is that right? In case you’re wondering how I guessed right, I am not a magician. In fact, if you search Google for the term School, you see something similar. I have appended the result of my search below for reference. In fact, schools have looked this way since it was created more than 150 years ago.

Google Image search result for the term “school”

The reality is that while the world has been through several revolutions, education remained mostly unchanged. Education has been consistently built on a series of time blocks (years, semesters or trimesters, months, weeks, days) during which groups of students are provided the same instructional material for part of the day. Like products on a factory line, each learner acquires knowledge in the same way at the same pace with the hope to become a productive member of society. The system is built for efficiency. This mode of education is built on the belief that everyone learns the same way and at the same pace and during the same time of the day. We know that this is not true.

In recent years, the growth of Internet usage has provided an alternative in the form of eLearning. With eLearning, the content can be delivered through multiple formats including video, audio, and text. Additionally, eLearning allows the content to be asynchronous so students can follow different sections at a different pace. In fact, it gives the opportunity to completely move away from the factory-style learning to more competency-style learning. We have seen a growth in the adoption of eLearning in recent years (see the chart below). However, the use of eLearning skyrocketed when COVID-19 put the breaks on the traditional school model in the Spring of 2020. To keep education going, many countries tried various means. Some used Radio to broadcast lectures. Other countries such as Cameroon even use televised shows to continue to deliver lessons to students. A good number of institutions however tried eLearning for the first time.

Google Trends for the term “elearning”

This mass-taste of eLearning is the beginning of a new era for education. Schools will never operate the same way again. Why do I say that? For one, it offers institutions the ability to increase their profit:

Increased School Capacity: by leveraging the Internet, institutions can reduce the number of courses that require a physical presence on the campus thus increasing the number of students they can admit.

Larger Addressable Market: in today’s schools systems, most learners are required to commute to a physical building. For this reasons, most institutions can only be attended by people who are close by. With an online school, they can reach anyone anywhere with Internet. This increases their market reach.

It also gives parents quite a few benefits including:

Reduced Spending: parents will reduce their spending on items such as transportation and school clothing.

Increased Flexibility: with school being online, learners can take the course from anywhere thus freeing parents up to take vacation and travel with their kids during times other than Spring Break or Summer Vacation. Obviously, this will depend on how the online school is implemented. It is possible though to create asynchronous learning which gives the students this flexibility.

For the students, there are benfits as well:

Personalized Learning: students will have more flexibility on how they learn. They can use a multitude of formats such as videos, audio, text, discussion, zoom meetings, etc. They will aso have flexibility on when they learn. Some might prefer early morning while others prefer late night. They will no longer be constraints to a specific time period in a specific location.

Proficiency-based Learning: online content allows institutions to build programs based on proficiency. In such a system, students learn to become proficient in a specific topic, then move to the next. The pace of learning is adapted to each student’s ability. In this type of system, fast learners can move quicker while slower learners are no longer forced to keep up. They can slow down for the topics they have the challenge to make sure they become proficient. These are some of the reasons, I believe that we are at the start of a transformation of our education systems.

Imagine the following: you wake up at 5:30AM for your morning run. As you run, you put on your headphone and listen to a chapter of the book on success by “Jack Canfield.” Once you return and shower, you pickup your phone, log into your virtual classroom and record a video of you giving a summary of what you just learned. While the AI bot analyses your video submission, you go grab a breakfast. Right after breakfast, you get message from the AI telling you that you did well on your summary and the next module is now unlocked. You open the next module and it’s a timed-quiz to validate that you have acquired the knowledge. You start the quiz, hold your phone up while the AI scans your face, then you start answering the questions it asks you. Once you’re done, the AI gives you a B+ score and marks that competency done. For the next competency, the AI tells you that you will need to build a team of students nearby to work with. It gives you a few people who are at the same level and also needing to form a team for you to pick from. You’re not ready to start so you shut it down to pick it up later.

This might sound futuristic, but it’s not that far from what’s possible today. At TekZone, we have built courses such as our Python for Beginners course that allow the student to learn at their own pace regardless of where they are, take quizzes to confirm what they’ve learned and unlock more modules as they go. They can do this from the comfort of their home or on the go, from their PC or their phone. They can even download it to their phones and do it without Internet connection. The only missing piece is the AI component but it’s not too far.

Like any change, it’s uncomfortable. We are used to our factory-style system. it’s predictable and safe. But that’s precisely why it’s no longer right for today and tomorrow’s world where we being social means using Facebook, Tik Tok or Twitter, and where technology is changing what we do and the way we work. A school system created 150 years ago is no longer right for a world with AI.

So what should you do? Educate yourself. If you have not yet, try to leverage online learning. You can do so from TekZone Academy or from any other platform such as Udemy or Udacity. If you have kids, introduce them to platforms such as Khan Academy or ABS Mouse. Soon, those will be the norm.

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Take Our Online Course Without Internet

We started TekZone Academy to deliver rich content to young Africans in urban and rural areas. But we are also aware that the Internet is not always available. When it is, it might not be as reliable. To help with this challenge, we have designed TekZone Academy so that you can connect, download your courses to your phone or tablet, then go through the course offline including taking the quizzes. The next time you connect to the Internet, it will synchronize with your account.

To get started with your mobile app, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Install the Moodle app from the play store. See the screenshot below.

install moodle app

Step 2: Connect the app to TekZone Academy. When you open the app, it will ask you for the URL to the web site. put it www.tek.zone/academy

Configure Moodle app

Step 3: Login to the App. When the app connects successfully to the TekZone Academy platform, you’ll see the logo and name appear. You will also be prompted to login. Put in your username and password and click “Log In”

login to app

Step 4: You’re all done. If you followed these steps, you should now be logged in to the app (see image below). You will only be asked to login this once. The next time you launch the app, it will directly open in your dashboard.

app dashabord

Watch the video below to see how easy it is to interact with the application.

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NI LabVIEW is now Free

Hello TekZone Community. In 2015 we launched a Robotics Course designed to expose young Africans to robotics. This course covers topics such as sensors, actuators, and controls algorithms. To make this course accessible to all, we partnered with National Instruments to leverage LabVIEW Home edition which is a version of LabVIEW designed to work with Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone Black. This was ideal because LabVIEW is graphical and easier for newbies to pick up. They could focus on building their robots rather than learning text-based programming. You can see some pictures from that class below.

Unfortunately, LabVIEW Home edition was discontinued by National Instruments. The change eliminated this option for many. It seems that we were not the only people needing this because National Instrument just announced the introduction of a new NI LabVIEW Community Edition which does the same thing and is completely free. See the official launch video below.

TekZone Robotics Course will return

We will revamp the Introduction to Robotics course using this new Community edition and make it available to the public. Stay tuned.

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Getting Started with Artificial Intelligence – Resources

Courses

The Machine Learning course offered by Standford through Coursera is a great way to start. It provides details behind the Machine Learning concepts and provide everything needed to practice it. The course goes through the math behind AI and ML. You can access it for Free here: https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning . Millions of people already have.

Another very interesting course for a newby is Udemy’s Pyton for Data Science and Machine Learning Bootcamp. This course does 2 things: teach you Python and how to apply the language to Machine Learning concepts. This course is not free, but it’s well worth the $10 I paid for it. You can access it here: https://www.udemy.com/course/python-for-data-science-and-machine-learning-bootcamp/

Podcasts

The Machine Learning Guide podcast is a great one for a newbie. While it covers some of the technical details of ML, the main objective of this podcast is to cover the forest that is ML. It covers they why behind each concept including when it should be used and why. You can access it for free a the following link or on your favorite podcast app. http://ocdevel.com/mlg

The Emerj AI in Industry podcast helps connect typical industry challenges with corresponding AI fields. I recommend it whether you’re starting or are deep into your AI journey. https://emerj.com/

Books

The book Machines of Loving Grace presents a very good history of AI from the early 1900s to the recent boom in this field. It helps understand current trends. I highly recommend it.

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TekZone launches Lego Programming for all in Douala

What is Lego Robotics?

LEGO Robotics is a hands on, multidisciplinary, collaborative, authentic learning experience, and TekZone wants you to give it a try. In this program, you will learn how to use sensors such as sound , color and touch to have a robot identify different sounds, color and obstacles. You will learn how to make a robot move in various directions and how to measure those moves. You will learn advanced programming techniques that will allow you to build a program autonomous robots able to move and avoid obstacles. Watch the video below for what’s possible after this training:

Who can attend this session?

Anyone passionate about Robotics can attend this session. Below is a copy of the syllabus for this training (French and English).

TekZone Lego Robotics -Course-Syllabus-FR

TekZone Lego Robotics -Course-Syllabus-EN

When are the sessions?

The sessions are a month long and there is a session every month. You can apply to get the exact date for the session that works best for you. Follow the link below to apply:

How can I apply?

Follow this link to apply: https://www.tek.zone/wp/lego-robotics-class-reservation/ 

Photos of the setup

See pictures below that show the setup for the course.