Is online learning transforming education?

“Brick and mortar schools will still exist, and the overwhelming majority of children will attend them, but the schools will be center of individualized learning, with engaging interactive content rather than a series of chalk-and-textbook, grade-delineated classrooms, The Huffington Post reports.

At high school and potentially middle school, each child will have a computer to work at his or her own pace in customized programs; technology will deliver it to them in ways best suited to their individual needs and strengths.”

Is this scenario science fiction? Can this type of set up ever happen? And if it did, would it even improve quality? What then would be the role of our teachers in managing these disruptive changes?

Ron Packard addresses these important questions in his recent book Education Transformation. In particular, he highlights the specific ways in which technology can provide meaningful educational alternatives, especially for lower-income students in communities with struggling schools.

While Packard writes about the US, his arguments also hold true in Latin America. As he said to me in a recent interview, “In South America, online education could leapfrog brick-and-mortar schools in many remote places where building infrastructure is more expensive.”

Indeed, expanded online education could help thousands of schools in the region where children of different ages often study together due to lack of teachers and other resources. The personalization of content that it allows could make a big difference in allowing each student to progress at his or her level, and it can be distributed at a low marginal cost.

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