Regular readers of thewikiness know our excitement about emerging models of schooling. They may recall my conviction that American schools face an imperative: either bring the scaleable, cost-lowering power of computer-mediated learning into their curricula, or risk irrelevance and failure. The steady increase in quality web-based materials, the increasing access to wi-fi connectivity, the decreasing cost of hardware, and Arne Duncan’s moves on the federal level toward “re-formulating” schools and school districts appear to be making this movement in public education inevitable. In a spring with unprecedented disruption in schools because of lower property values and subsequent budget shortfalls, there emerge even more new opportunities–those that the large cohort of suddenly unemployed educators–administrators among them represent. Charter school, anyone?
An edu-preneur would exploit this newly liberated workforce, put it together in a technology-based package of web 2.0. applications and social learning networks, and create together the next model of the public school. With twice the class size and and half the supervisory staff, one could engage each student in meaningful learning for longer hours each day. The key is having each student in a 1:1 relationship with an Internet connected machine for communication and collaboration.
Of course there would be opportunities–mandatory sessions of perhaps half of each day–for students to pursue physical education and arts education. But the classroom as we know it would cease to exist. A large commons or library with tables and chairs (remember the “study carrel”?) would suffice for everyone. Social skills would be encouraged and developed in the arts and athletics, and in the core of project-based learning activities that students would be able to complete in all of their traditional academic areas. Our kids would emerge excellent readers and writers, effective team-members and leaders, and physically fit aesthetes able to interact harmoniously with the natural world.
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