Sunday, January 17, 2010

The future is now

I used to blog for my old company, but they took the blog down. I am
not actually allowed to own the writings I put up on that blog, but as
I reference them on occasion in my writing I am putting those articles
up in my archives here for reference sake. I'll put the tag GS on those
articles noting that they were originally published on the

The future is now

November 11, 2008 – 6:00 am by Brendan

According to this article a new law that takes effect in Florida next year will require all school districts to create virtual schools. Is it the future of school?

Well it is and it isn’t. I definitely see more “regular” students taking classes online. I see more “regular” schools offering classes online. This program however, seems more like a cost saving measure than a school improvement measure.

One of the surprising lessons of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations was that small schools aren’t always better than large schools. Yes, smaller class sizes and more individual attention can help student enormously, but small schools means less variety.

It turns out that in large schools you get more options. Take for example a small high school of 400 people. In this school there might be two or three options for each class. While at the same time a large school might have dozens of options for each class. What does this mean to the average student? It means Spanish Class could be offered every period of the day. It means the small school might offer Spanish and maybe another language, while the large school can offer Spanish, German, Latin, and French.

For me the future of education, in this case the offering of online classes, should be to enhance the curriculum, not to save money. Students who can’t make it to the physical location, students who have physical disabilities that can be overcome with technology, students who are sick, collaboration with other schools/cultures, even gifted education these are the possible enhancements that online education can offer.

In short the future of education isn’t today’s education in different wrapping paper. The future of education is going beyond what is possible today.

Thanks to MikeGras for the original tweet on this and coolcatteacher for the retweet to bring it to my attention.

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