In the near future, we will see fewer traditional school buildings. Taking their place will be affinity schools, organized around students’ interests, and more STEM labs strategically located to offer easy access. Blended learning will be the norm, with individual students needing their own device. Networks will deliver higher levels of broadband performance to accommodate the growth in online learning. Technology combined with global learning will change the ways schools look today.
In November 2011, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 55 percent of more than 2,000 school districts had students participating in distance education programs. While at one time only large states and nonprofits offered such programs, school districts now are providing access to curriculum through vendor partnerships, and many are offering classes of their own that include various categories of online learning, such as flipped classrooms and blended learning. There is even a proliferation of online high schools that offer a full four-year education. In the District CIO section this month, contributing writer Ron Schachter focuses on how to avoid the pitfalls of virtual schooling. I think we all know that every district in the country has students who need the differentiation that online learning can offer.
Along with the growth of online learning, the use of games in the classroom is increasing exponentially. Computing power and sophisti- cated graphics have made games more engaging. According to a recent study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, out of a group of 500 teachers, 32 percent used video games every week, and 70 percent felt games help personalize education. In “Gaming Gains Respect,” online learning expert Will Richardson tells us how to “play in the sandbox” among other things.