Thursday, July 17, 2014

Keeping Formal Education Relevant

In my last post I offered some musings about Key Trends from the 2014 NMC Horizon Report. Here I offer a comment about one of the “Wicked Challenges” (those that are complex to define, much less to address). This particular 
Classroom scene, Washington, D.C. (public domain photo)
challenge is described as Keeping Formal Education Relevant:

As online learning and free educational content become more pervasive, stakeholders and administrators must seriously consider what schools can provide that cannot be replicated by other sources. It is no longer necessary for parents to send their children to school for them to become knowledgeable and gain skills that will lead them to gainful employment. There are, however, valuable skills and attitudes that many believe can only be acquired in school settings. 

On the face of it, this challenge might strike some readers as absurd because of the “valuable skills and attitudes that many believe can only be acquired in school settings.”  However, it is important to consider that relative cost and convenience that online education provides.  These considerations are placing enormous pressure on institutions of higher education.  We don’t see this as much in K-12 . . . . yet.

Perhaps my antennae are up on this issue because I work at a private school.  Our revenue is almost entirely provided by tuition paying parents.  We have to continuously persuade those parents to choose our school over the “free” public school in our district and other private school options.  

Since becoming an administrator I have had regular formal opportunities to confer with teachers, and I ask them rhetorically, “What value do you add to your students’ classroom experience that makes paying for your course the right choice for them and their parents?”.  

The Horizon Report implies that all brick and mortar schools need to be continually asking this question.

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