Great piece by Mort Zuckerman, major donor to NYC iSchool, in the Daily News:
Technology holds promise. Through the miracles of the Internet and video, we can have the best teachers in each subject teaching in different schools. I have just witnessed this experiment in New York City in a school where lectures by great teachers were beamed in. They are able to inspire the remote students on subjects as varied as immunology, public health and geometry.
The technology is not just a destroyer of distance. It is force multiplier of talent: More pupils will learn more, more students will do well and maybe come back to teach, and more teachers will see how it is done. (After all, this is the way surgeons are taught: by observing the experts at work.)
Technology is starting to demonstrate the power to change teaching. As we develop more teaching software, hundreds of thousands of students can be with a great historian on an explanatory walk through the sites of the Battles of Gettysburg and Waterloo, or watch an aeronautics engineer use a wind tunnel to calculate the best shapes for the wings of a new aircraft.
Online learning has other advantages. Students can proceed at their own pace. Teachers can organize supplements to their lectures with visuals that make the material much easier for students to retain. Finally, technology will enable school systems to reduce the number of teachers by as much as a quarter, freeing up funds to pay teachers more. Then, more good teachers can interact with more students.
Face-to-face teaching and hands-on collaboration cannot be replaced. But the technology I’ve described is an important supplement in providing a new form of blended learning. We are on the verge of what could, if properly managed, be a huge educational breakthrough.