Death of the classroom

For decades, education has failed to evolve: we gather at an unchanging location, at an unchanging time, and try to force development. Distinct learning styles and abilities are not accommodated; instead, students traverse subjects in unison and try to reach a predetermined level in perfect harmony. Questions aren’t outlawed, but when Teacher – the omnipotent…

For decades, education has failed to evolve: we gather at an unchanging location, at an unchanging time, and try to force development. Distinct learning styles and abilities are not accommodated; instead, students traverse subjects in unison and try to reach a predetermined level in perfect harmony. Questions aren’t outlawed, but when Teacher – the omnipotent leader in all this – has just an hour to work with, it’s preferred that learning happens quickly and quietly.

‘The Classroom’ might sound like a chapter from the latest dystopian bestseller, but this manner of learning is not confined to the pages of a novel – it is reality. Which is shocking when considering the huge technological and societal advances of the last decade, where progress has been virtually universal. But can we really call ordering an Uber ‘progress’ if we are failing at education – the most important front of all?

Classrooms are relics of the late Industrial Revolution, when we first began arranging desks in rows so that information could be passively absorbed by the masses. Over a century later in 2018, they should not be our primary mode of education. This is especially true when it comes to technical subjects, which are best taught through facilitation rather than instruction. In a classroom, learners are rarely – if ever – of identical abilities, meaning the group can only go as fast as the least technical person. Efficient, this certainly is not.

While travelling through India in 2014, Immersive Labs’ CCO Max Vetter was introduced to a better way of learning by Sugata Mitra – winner of the 2013 TED prize of $1million for his work on Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs). Mitra’s gloriously simple findings were that children can teach themselves anything if given the correct tools. In fact, his research showed children cannot only teach themselves; they can learn faster and more comprehensively teaching themselves than they can through classroom-based learning.

Mitra’s two decades of research started when he embedded a computer in the wall of a Delhi slum in 1999. The local children were so keen to play with the computer that they taught themselves English to understand it. This showed Mitra that if a child is interested and engaged in a subject, their ability to absorb information is much higher.

This is something that resonated with Max, who, having spent over three years teaching open source intelligence and ethical hacking in classrooms, had seen time and again how inadequate an environment for learning the classroom can be, with so many preferring to learn in their own time and on their own terms. Max also taught classes where some delegates were professionals with ten years of experience, while others had no pre-existing knowledge at all. The result? An unsatisfactory learning environment for all delegates, too basic for advanced users and too advanced for beginners.

Max said, “When visiting the Self-Organised Learning Environment in a Pune slum and seeing the excitement the children had for this type of learning, I knew it was the future. The immersive and self-guided style of learning is what those children found so exciting in India, and I’ve found similar results from learners in the UK.”

At Immersive Labs, we invest in the power of self-organised learning by encouraging users to research for themselves, rather than giving walkthrough guides or step-by-step explanations. The knowledge gained from this type of work goes above and beyond what standard classroom exercises can achieve and results in a much wider breadth of a user’s cyber skills. Our platform also allows users to learn on their terms, with 24/7 access to an ever-increasing library of content – much of which is CREST certified.

If you agree that the classroom is dead and are interested in a new way of learning cyber skills, schedule a demo with Immersive Labs here.

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