Technology has become integral to nearly every aspect of school curriculum reform, and Google has found a way to combine mentorship — something critics say is missing from many tech-based tools — with online efficiency.
According to Emil Protalinski of TheNextWeb, the company has just launched a new, interactive learning tool called Oppia:
"Oppia does this by modeling a mentor who poses questions for the learner to answer. Based on the learner's responses, the mentor decides what question to ask next, what feedback to give, whether to delve deeper, or whether to proceed to something new. You can think of this as a smart feedback system that tries to "teach a person to fish," instead of simply revealing the correct answer or marking the submitted answer as wrong."
An exploration is an interactive activity that others can learn from, writes Protalinski. Oppia collects information on how learners and students interact with it and presents it to exploration authors so they can repair flaws in the exercise. For instance, if many students are replying to an exploration in which the answer is not well received, the teacher could make a diiferent learning path for it. In this way, the exploration continues to become better understood by learners.
Some of the key features of Oppia include personalized and customized feedback for learners after they have submitted answers, that explorations are easy to improve over time, and that explorations can be embedded into websites. Specific boundaries can be given for a specific learner in order to create a fuller interactive learning experience.
According to Google, the idea behind Oppia came from a need to take the tremendous amount of online information — much of which it sees as static and boring — and process it in a better way, says Rip Empson of TechCrunch. Lectures and presentations do not create enough interactivity, discussion and student feedback most of the time, suggests Google. Google says that it will be a smart feedback system that can let educators tweak their exploration based on student feedback and answers that they get.
Like many Google projects of this sort, it's not completely certain how much attention and support, if any, Google is expected to give Oppia in the long-term — and Oppia's home page refuses to go so far as to say that Oppia is an official Google product. This would indicate that Google has not yet committed many employees or resources to Oppia.
In fact, Google is most likely hoping that computer gurus will take over ownership of Oppia and that the online community will help with repair and maintenance — but as the marketplace changes, the opportunity for financial gain may influence the model.
To learn more about the Oppia program created by Google, visit oppia.org.