K-12 Education – A Game Changer in the Midst, As Online Education Experiences Rapid Growth

Not a day goes by where I don’t read a story in our nationwide news where some major school district in the country is laying off more teachers and cutting budgets. It is getting to the point where there are no prudent budget adjustments to make without impacting the quality of education. It’s extremely tough in the K-12 arena. One of the biggest trends currently is to augment the school’s curriculum by adding online education programs. Still, this may lead to unintended consequences – okay so, let’s talk.There was an interesting article in the New York Times not too long ago titled “More Pupils Are Learning Online, Fueling Debate on Quality – Class time at Whitehaven High in Memphis, where every student must take a course online” by Trip Gabriel which was published on April 5, 2011. There was an interesting fact in that article, quote:”Nationwide, an estimated 1.03 million students at the K-12 level took an online course in 2007-8, up 47 percent from two years earlier, according to the Sloan Consortium, an advocacy group for online education. About 200,000 students attend online schools full time, often charter schools that appeal to home-schooling families, according to another report.”Now then, go ahead and look up that article online and read it, then come back to this article here because there are some comments I’d like to make which I believe relevant to the future of education as these trends continue forward.Let me ask a simple question; what happens if we shift our current education system to do more teaching and learning online, and then what happens if all of a sudden the Internet goes down? And there are many reasons why it might. We could have a huge solar flare, a cyber attack, or hackers could find a way into the social networking websites that everyone belongs to online. What happens then? What if some massive computer virus takes down the whole thing?What if all of the human knowledge which has been accumulated is all the suddenly lost? What happens then? Are we relying too much on the Internet, not only for knowledge but also for teaching? As it stands the average individual is now spending 3 to 4 hours a day online, and what on earth will they do if it is taken away? Will they be able to cope, will we be able to teach our children, the question is relevant, even if no one has asked it with regards to online teaching before. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.