At the present time, I see why “learners prefer not to learn at a distance, if given a legitimate choice.” People are slow to change and embrace new ideas. I have long said that education has not significantly changed in the last 250 years. Recent advances in technology have led the way, finally, to the prospect that education can and will change in the near future, but it will take much public relations work by knowledgeable people.
In my vision for future distance education, there will not be any classrooms per se. All students in the state will be offered the same classes through distance education; teachers in the classroom will be there to reinforce, explain, and help children with the lesson. Every school will be a learning center filled with the latest technology. Entire communities will become “hot spots” so that the Internet will be accessible from anywhere. Computers will be provided to every student much like textbooks are now. Life-long learning will become a necessity. Students are not just limited to an age range; they can be two years old or one hundred years old. Learning centers will be open to the public 24 hours a day and parents are encouraged to attend the learning centers with their children. Thousands of classes, not just the sprinkling we have now, will be offered through different-time, different place distance education. Local businesses will become involved in the educational process both as teachers and students. Lessons developed by businesses, government, and other institutions will be offered through the learning centers via distance learning. Interactive learning will be the norm not the exception. Instruction must be designed to accommodate different modes of learning. Special distance learning “events” will take place and discussion groups will follow. These events will be geared to anyone in the community.
Early grades will go through teacher-assisted distance learning modules within the learning center environment where the basics of reading, writing, and math will take place. Teachers and teacher assistants will monitor and help the young students with a ratio of 5-1. Students will stay with each module until they are ready to move to the next. Grade levels will be nonexistent.
The “school day” will also be nonexistent. Through distance education monitored by the state department of education, criteria will be set for all students. Only the “best of the best” lessons will filter down to the students. Anyone that has done home-schooling will tell you that the time the “teacher” puts in actually teaching is not equal to the time that students spend in a classroom in a typical school. By combining the best of both worlds, we can teach our students more efficiently than our present system.
After a student progresses through all the required modules, usually by the age of about 12 or 13, then a whole new world of opportunities will open up. Students will take mini-modules. Criteria will be set from the state department but it will contain a broad spectrum of opportunities for each child. For instance, when a child finishes with early school modules, he and his parents will meet with a guidance counselor for an extended period. Together they will choose a path for the student. This path can be changed at any time but will not be limited to academic, vocational or general studies. As technologies of the future change, it is imperative that education change too.