Thoughts on the Future of EdTech: Anthony Cabraal from Chalkle°

Anthony Cabraal is the Chief Experience Officer at Chalkle. He believes firmly that improving education and the culture around learning and teaching is the most important lever to pull to create systemic positive change in our world. Chalkle is a Wellington based social enterprise empowering educational providers and teachers to create more active learning opportunities in our world. Chalkle.com is a platform for facilitating face to face, group classes and courses.

The ‘Ed’ in ‘EdTech’

Yes, we’re a business; yes, we’re a software/technology driven business, but fundamentally, we are an organisation designed to create a positive impact on education. For us technology is an enabler, the medium, and a tool; technology is not the answer, but technology is part of the solution.

This influx of new possibilities and game-changing potential is coming to education as fast as you can say “great market opportunity”. And sure, perhaps soon we will live in a world of digitized, connected libraries, interactive textbooks, free online tutorial resources across every imaginable discipline, fully immersive virtual reality classrooms hosting 1000s of students simultaneously, personalised learning aids, disruptive platforms for academic research, the list will go on, and on, and on.

The change is here, the change will keep coming, so where will this educational technology take us in the next 5 years? How is this technology going to add value to the fundamentals of the educational experience?  How does it help teachers connect with learners to deliver better learning experiences? How does it meaningfully create positive impact on the culture around teaching and learning?

A sharing economy that empowers more teachers

We started Chalkle with a very simple, powerful question “How do we connect those who want to teach, with those who want to learn?”

By providing easy to use administration software that allows teachers to organise and promote their classes, take bookings, payments, manage RSVPs etc, we are building a network of educators from across the community and NGO sector, from the existing educational specialists and independent teachers to small businesses and right through to large enterprises.

Because all the classes are published in the same place,  the software platform helps with the marketing. We make it as easy as possible for learners to find the classes and courses they want to do.

In the scheme of things, this is relatively simple technology. Software alone cannot change education. At chalkle, we’re committed to creating the support structures to better serve the needs of learners and teachers - technology is only part of the solution.

We’re greatly inspired by the ‘collaborative consumption’ sharing economy. Millions of people all over the world are using software platforms to enable the sharing of their spare rooms, their cars, their wardrobes and their tool-sheds. This technology helps them earn money, feel valued and, most importantly, is reframing their idea of how these markets traditionally worked.

We are driven by the opportunity to bring the mechanics of the sharing economy to the most powerful things we have as individuals and as a society: our skills and talents, and our ability to teach and learn.

Online technology is changing the game, yet bringing people together in the real world remains a hugely powerful thing. We’ve had learners who have shown up for one-off worm farming on a Sunday morning and committed to an entire season of weekend Permaculture. We know people love to connect with each other and learn in different ways and different formats. We are exploring how software and support can facilitate putting the power of this choice and wider potential directly into the hands of the teaching and learning community.

The real role of technology in our work is to create the cultural infrastructure of the emerging, connected world.

A culture of learning

Technology as cultural infrastructure is already playing a huge role in our lives, even imagining a world without the infrastructure provided by Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn is difficult now.

Technology holds the responsibility to steward culture and nowhere is this more important than in the education space, around teaching and learning. We have named this challenge, and this inspiration, ‘The Learning Renaissance’.

Far too many people are leaving the high school and university systems, both as learners and teachers, disillusioned, disconnected and worst of all, in their minds ‘done’ with learning. Core to our motivations as founders to work in the space where technology, business and education come together, is to confront this challenge.

From where we are standing our greatest (and most important) input will be to contribute to building culture around teaching and learning. Learning is an innate part of our humanity, we are collectively bound by our limitations around what we can learn and teach each other. This grand process does not end when you get your certificate or your student card expires.

So, where will the EdTech wave take us? As it was 20,000 years ago, 10,000 years ago, 5,000 years ago, and as it is now, the role of technology in education remains to enable and empower teachers to connect and share skills with hungry learners in better, more effective ways.

"We grow in the direction of the questions we ask." is a quote written on the wall in the chalkle office, and with the future of education now powered by technology, the way in which we grow, will be determined not by technology, but by the questions we pose for technology to solve.

We know just one positive experience of learning can open a new relationship with the much bigger, much more powerful idea of continuous active learning. By creating more opportunities, wider opportunities, better opportunities for face-to-face Active Learning, we will live to see a world where learning is something we do our whole lives, and where everyone has something they can teach.

Join the renassiance at chalkle.com