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Addressing Two Challenges of Higher Ed: Scale and Engagement

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,” Charles Dickens was talking about grim times of the French Revolution. His elegant phrase however is strikingly relevant to those of us lost in turmoil of higher education. While this seems to be times of great disenchantment with education, it is also the time for hope, for reinvention and new ideas.

Of the many problems of education, the one that haunted me the most was the problem of student engagement. Students who are not engaged with their learning are not motivated, are bored and do not graduate high school. About a million high school students do not graduate each year for many reasons. The Gates Silent Epidemic study indicates that a large percent of the drop-outs could have graduated but did not, and of these many were just too bored to graduate. The situation is a lot worse when you consider that according to Sir John Daniel of the Commonwealth of Learning, there will be a 100 million young people with no college or high school to go to. Forget building bricks and mortar schools and colleges, how on earth will we find enough teachers to teach these young minds?  And keep them engaged?  We need new solutions that offer both scale and engagement.

A possible solution to this problem came to me through my own experiences with my children. My TedxSan JoseCA talk will describe this journey of discovery which took me from my life as an academic dean in Atlanta, to that of an entrepreneur in the Valley. With our team, we created a startup, OpenStudy that offered a world-wide study group. I encountered rejection, obstacles, but also made new friends and rediscovered the true meaning of the Beatles song, “With a little help from my friends.” OpenStudy resonates with this theme.

We created a unique social learning platform where anyone can find a way to pay it forward by taking the time to teach someone something. The title of my talk, “#Take 10 Teach10”. Come see for yourself.
April 14.