Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Computers and the Near Future of Education

New York Times published an impressive special issue of Science Times today, dedicated to The Future of Computing. One of the columns discusses the role of technology in improving U.S. education. Death Knell for the Lecture: Technology as a Passport to Personalized Education is written by Daphne Koller, a professor at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She highlights the Khan Academy, and Stanford's recent experiment with placing three computer science courses online, which attracted 300,000 non-credit students.

Lee Fang, an investigative reporter and blogger, presents a radically different and much more skeptical perspective on online education in a very interesting essay for The Nation magazine. How Online Learning Companies Bought America's Schools

NYT Columnist Gail Collins also discussed online education in her recent column Virtually Educated.

Add to that the fact that the information divide in the U.S. (see Susan Crawford's essay in the NYT Sunday Review) is starting to look like a virtual Grand Canyon, and the whole discussion about online education becomes deeply troubling.

What to do?

"We can hardly stop the adoption of mobile Internet and mobile devices, and they will revolutionize all aspects of education and learning, but what we can do is to help frame the development and create access ramps for those socially and economically disadvantaged. As the delivery of education becomes more and more fragmented, the need for standards and a reasonable amount of fair and independent evaluation becomes critical.

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