School of One

Now that anyone can learn anything and learning professionals can work anywhere, a learning ecosystem is being created around the formal public delivery system—sometimes supporting, sometimes competing, sometimes infiltrating.

Online learning is full and part time option for millions of students.  Massive foundation and government programs are pushing data driven-instruction and teacher evaluation.  The combination of direct intervention and the surrounding web of opportunity means a slow decline in traditional education employment and strong growth in non-traditional roles.

As schools adopt formats that blend online and onsite learning, there will be an increase of tiered staffing models with well paid master teachers in school leadership roles, new teachers in training, paraprofessionals and volunteers.  Teachers with proven abilities will have the opportunity to influence the outcomes of several hundred students.

Teachers delivering all or most of their instruction online will grow from about 25,000 to more than 10 percent of the total by the end of the decade with higher penetration in high school, particularly Advanced Placement, science, math, and speech therapy.  Most teachers will work in schools that use online and computer based instruction.

During the last decade, funded by new money foundations, we’ve seen an explosion of school developers, managed school networks, technical assistance providers, and advocacy organizations.  Teach for America helped to make education cool as a career.  A long recession and federal stimulus made it as it an easier choice.  Many TFA alum become edupreneurs.

Learning games will be one of the most important developments of the decade to come.  Michael Levine of the Cooney Center said, “[We] believe that the demonstrated potential of digital media wisely guided by caring adults could become a ‘game changer’ in advancing children’s prospects in the decade ahead.” More broadly, digital content that provides instant feedback will transform learning and career options for learning professions.

Like doctors, lawyers, and accountants, learning professionals can freelance, start a business, build a nonprofit, or join a public delivery system.  Welcome to the new learning landscape.

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