Physical Schools, Technology, and Childcare

“What would happen if there was no public education?” asked Will Richardson of Clay Shirky in a video interview. (Transcripts available here)

Beyond technology, there would a a huge child care crisis.

I spoke with a motivational speaker that came to our school to present to teachers in our part of a sparsely populated county. I mentioned how technology might replace our physical schools in the future–especially the remotely located schools like ours.

He immediately replied that it wouldn’t happen because of the child care aspect–especially in grades K-8. An interesting thought regarding the future of public schools.

If technology took the place of physical schools, who would be with the children?

Can the functions of child care and education be separated? Should they be separated? Could one imagine a school with para-professionals managing the physical children while geographically independent teachers work with learners online? Teachers certainly need to become fluent in the technology to survive as a profession whether they are physically or virtually present.

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  1. Christy Tucker’s avatar

    This is a really interesting question. Honestly, I have no idea how it would work out. I expect we’ll see some substantial growth in online at the high school level, where child care isn’t a concern. But elementary or even middle schools? I don’t know.

    My guess is that we’re not anywhere near seeing widespread fully online learning for younger students. There’s a number of factors, with child care certainly being a significant one. Public perception and acceptance is important too. Online learning is becoming accepted in higher ed; in 10 years it will be commonplace in high schools. Once it’s at the high school level, I think it will trickle down to the younger students.

    Maybe what works for the younger grades will never be widespread fully online learning though. Maybe it will be more of a blend. I think that’s where a lot of education is going to end up: hybrids and blends depending on the course and learner.

  2. andrew’s avatar

    Having been a hs teacher for 20 years, i totally ignored this side of the “distance learning” solution. I agree with Christy, that this learning demands a self-starter personality, not usually there in k-8.

    With a new administration in Washington willing to shake things up, maybe a massive day and then health care reform a la the WPA will happen!

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