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The Education Change is Coming Faster Than You Think

The always valuable Glenn Reynolds alerts readers to an important story in the Wall Street Journal: “My Teacher is an App.” It turns out that technology is transforming the American educational experience far faster than most of us knew. From the Journal:

In a radical rethinking of what it means to go to school, states and districts nationwide are launching online public schools that let students from kindergarten to 12th grade take some—or all—of their classes from their bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens. Other states and districts are bringing students into brick-and-mortar schools for instruction that is largely computer-based and self-directed.

The story continues:

Nationwide, an estimated 250,000 students are enrolled in full-time virtual schools, up 40% in the last three years, according to Evergreen Education Group, a consulting firm that works with online schools. More than two million pupils take at least one class online, according to the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a trade group.

A quarter of a million kids in virtual schools?  The head spins.  Back in the days when I struggled and slogged through miles of snowy, wolf-infested woods to reach the savage, cane-wielding martinets of Pundit Prep in darkest Surrey, the concept of virtual school was unimaginable.

One suspects that not all these experiments are brilliantly successful, but then neither are all of our traditional programs and schools.  The recession and the budget crunch are driving faster change in education, medicine, government and law: the branches of American life most in need of revolutionary productivity change and quality enhancement.  All of these fields will be radically different in thirty years from what we now know; ‘bewildering’ is the pace of change we need, and if this story is any indication, ‘bewildering’ is the pace of change we are beginning to get.

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  • Kenny

    If you want a true & in-depth picture of the revolution that computers, the internet and distant learning are bringing to K-12 education, see Stanford’s Prof. Terry Moe’s
    “Liberating Learning: Technology, Politics, and the Future of American Education” (2009).

    Among the many advantages of distant learning, Moe say one will be the demise of the teachers unions. Saints be praised!

  • Becky

    Why are school districts still pushing multi million dollar bond issues to build new schools and facilities? The amount of time school facilities are used are small compared to 365 days a year (and therefore cost). They are not open for customers year round and do not work shifts (probably more family friendly)to use the same space twice.

    Office type tasks (which education is for kids) were one of the first jobs that allowed work from home flexibility.

    Perhaps the internet is finally a way for families to form organizations (combined with homeschooling) to make educators care about their clients. Remember there was a union head that said something to the effect when families unionized, he would care about them.

  • Brittany

    Technology is a vast part of education today. As educators it is important for us to prepare students for their future lives; lives in which technology plays a huge part. Teachers should utilize the technology we have today in order to enhance students’ learning.

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