“Henry VIII’s iPad” -The Future of U.S. Education: ‘Making It Cool to be Smart’ (VIDEO)

6a00d8341bf7f753ef014e86c9c13c970d.jpg As a young boy, Henry VIII’s tutors included the philosopher Erasmus and Sir Thomas More. His education embraced lessons in languages (Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Spanish), grammar, theology, history, rhetoric, logic, philosophy, arithmetic, logic, literature, geometry and music. In addition to all of theses subjects the education of the young Henry also included astronomy, navigation and cartography. His interest in these subjects stayed with him throughout his life.

Few students alive today have the advantages of a Henry VIII. With the stresses affecting today’s public high schools and students, new solutions are desperately needed to boost the quality of U.S. secondary education to prepare our students for college and beyond, and give them the tools they’ll need to compete with students in the emerging worlds and education-centric cultures of China, India and Asia.

“Our secret sauce,” says The World is Flat author Thomas Friedman, “comes from our ability to integrate art, science, music and literature with the hard sciences. That’s what produces an iPod revolution or a Google.”

Zeroing in on this insight is an example of one possible solution to the challenges facing U.S. education is StudySync, an innovative Web-based learning tool that connects students to the great ideas of mankind through its extensive library of classic and modern texts, engaging writing prompts, and provocative media.

Robert Romano, CEO and founder of StudySync zeroed in on the cultural hurdles facing today’s students:

“A big one is that their world is fast paced, filled with distractions. Information comes at students in short bursts from all kinds of techno-gadgetry. It’s exciting. I live it too: Android in my hand, iPad tucked under my arm, all syncing through the cloud with the MacBook Air in my shoulder bag and desktop at home. But even if we’re talking sound bytes and blogs, intelligent communication has to be thoughtful at its core, has to derive from a fundamental understanding, from knowledge, from a comprehension of what is written in that great body of texts –— fiction and nonfiction. Having had some previous success in ed tech, I took it as a challenge:  How can technology encourage student interaction with important texts, somehow make it relevant to their everyday experiences, even entertaining, advancing my belief that it’s cool to be smart?”

With the program, students are able to post and critique each others’ work through an interactive peer network that encourages effective, timely review and helps improve critical thinking and expression. Engaging students by using technology in a way that is relevant to them, StudySync helps them build confidence and develop the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills necessary for college coursework and beyond.

“Great ideas are communally built, individual contributions to the whole,” Romano added. “Einstein’s work, unquestionably visionary, was founded upon the work of his predecessors in physics. There’s no short cut for study, for putting the work in. Clearly, that’s what it takes to acquire knowledge. So, StudySync is a process to help students obtain knowledge by analyzing ideas and socially constructing meaning, thinking critically, sharing and collaborating to advance those ideas.”

An incredibly cool feature of the service, its Twitter-like ‘Blasts’, incorporates the ever-changing, continual flow of information and events. Blasts are brought to students via the web, mobile phones, and iPads, encouraging them to express their ideas, and inspire meaningful discussions on local and world events of importance.

Will StudySync be one of the game changers U.S. education desperately needs? We think it could. Its collaborative use of technology, combined with rich visuals and entertaining style delivers the philosophy that “it’s cool to be smart.”

The Daily Galaxy via studysync.com




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