The series of short video segments alternates between Marmash speaking and frequent pauses for teacher-led classroom exercises. The idea is for a “duet system,” where a video expert teaches in tandem with the classroom’s own teacher. The idea here is not to replace teachers or threaten them with the new technology, but rather “offer a ‘gentle introduction’ to technology-abled education.”
Furthermore, the BLOSSOMS video modules are presented in VHS and DVD format so that no Internet connection is required, making them accessible in developing countries.
Developing countries are what inspired Professor Richard Larson and Elizabeth Murray, principal investigator and project manager, to pursue the BLOSSOMS project. Larson and Murray visited a classroom in rural China where students were red with cold, and learning seemed near impossible in the frigid environment. They felt deeply moved when they saw the children attentively watching a biology lesson from Tsinghua University via DVD, eagerly lapping up the information despite their rough surroundings. Larson and Murray began to consider the best ways to educate the students of today, particularly those in poorer areas.
“How do you teach critical thinking?” Larson asks. The answer may lie in the BLOSSOMS system. A partnership between MIT and organizations in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Lebanon and now Brazil, BLOSSOMS lets top educators from all over the world upload their own videos, with quality control provided by MIT. These videos run the gamut from topics such as “The Physics of Donkey Carts” to “How Cold is Cold: What is Temperature?” Videos are taught by experts from the Jordan Ministry of Education, MIT graduate students and professors, IBM scientists, Pakistani engineers, Harvard assistant professors, and many more.
This is the future of teaching: gathering best sources and teaching remotely through video and online, and then teachers organize local discussions.