两年前，我见过普加•桑卡尔，当时她已创立了促进师生间课堂讨论的协作平台Piazza。起初，这个平台只是在斯坦福大学（Stanford）的一些学生中使用。如今，Piazza已被斯坦福大学、普林斯顿大学（Princeton）以及麻省理工学院（MIT）等顶尖大学所采用，并在全球25个国家得到应用。获得红杉资本（Sequoia Capital）和贝西默风投（Bessemer Ventures）的750万美元融资后，32岁的桑卡尔希望能在教育改革中大展拳脚。但在其他企业家涉足这一极具变革性的领域之前，她认为我们需要重新审视技术在教育中发挥的作用。根据对达沃斯世界经济论坛（the World Economic Forum）的感悟，桑卡尔在本期客座文章中分享了她的观点。
我在得到丈夫的允许后才来到达沃斯，而且我也不是天生就适合这一行。我在印度长大成人，其间有七年时间我从未与家人之外的任何一个男孩子说过话。我们镇上很多女孩子16岁就嫁人了，一些女孩子几乎不怎么识字。我为什么能摆脱这种生活呢？因为，我父亲受过教育，他要求我学习。他为我描绘了一种我从未见过的生活，一种不困囿于高墙大院的生活。如果没有他的指引，我就不可能到印度理工学院（Indian Institute of Technology）求学。
I met Pooja Sankar two years ago after she founded Piazza, a collaboration platform that facilitates class discussion among students and teachers. Starting with a few students at Stanford, Piazza now is used at top universities such as Stanford and Princeton and MIT and in 25 countries around the world. With $7.5 million in funding from Sequoia Capital and Bessemer Ventures, Sankar, 32, aspires to play a key role in the transformation of education. But before other entrepreneurs get too revolutionary in this field, she thinks we need to reassess technology's role in education. Following an epiphany at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Sankar shares her view in this Guest Post.
As the founder and CEO of Piazza, I'm used to cheerleading for technology in higher education. But in the midst of an almost utopian optimism about online education that I witnessed in Davos, I found myself playing an unaccustomed role: gadfly.
And since returning from Davos, I've distilled my heresies to this: Education is a personal journey, and right now we're offering students an online jumble.
I rode into Davos on a spouse's pass, and I'm not to the manner born. I came of age in interior India, where for seven years I didn't talk to a single boy outside my family. Many girls in my town were married off by their parents at 16, some of them barely literate. The reason I got out? My father, an educated man, demanded that I study. He painted a picture of a life that was different from the one I could see just beyond the wall that separated our home from the street. Without that guidance, I would never have gone to IIT, Indian Institute of Technology.
At a session in Davos, Salesforce.com (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff and Sean Parker of Facebook (FB) and Napster fame hosted a roundtable focused on the question, "What's one global change you'd want to see?" Our panel focused on education, and all agreed that online courses showed great potential. The words "disrupt" and "revolutionize" were spoken solemnly and often. Then someone asked me -- as the person at the table least removed from the proverbial mud hut -- whether online education would have broadened my childhood horizons.
I had to answer, "No." What was really most important in my education was that at key moments, I was able to envision to the next step. And usually I did it with the help of a mentor, or at least someone who'd taken that next step before I had. The journey was personal, but guided. And that, more than access to any particular class or bit of educational content, was what saved me from the fate of early marriage and poverty that befell so many others.
In the wealthy world, we have an oddly romantic view of students in the global south: If we can just put educational stuff in front of them, they'll devour just as they would eat food if we airdropped it in during a famine.