Edu-innovation will improve quality, expand choice

A charter school investor asked me what innovation had to do with school choice.   The answer is that adaptive content–engaging, personalized, online learning with continuous feedback–will improve student motivation, accelerate learning, and expand options for students and families in 3 ways:
* Informal learning:  Improved access to broadband and powerful application development platforms laid the groundwork for a worldwide explosion of informal learning opportunities including language acquisition (e.g.,;  This year will mark the beginning of MMOLG-massively multiplayer online learning games.  They range from social networks with game motifs (e.g., to 2D in browser (e.g., to fullly immersive 3D games. 
* Online learning: During the next school year, there will be 2 million US students learning online, some at home and some in school.  Learning online is growing by 30%–50% where encouraged.  We’re seeing this level of growth with first gen content–flat and sequential, often not much better than textbooks online.  We’re beginning to see second gen content–engaging and adaptive–which has the potential to change learning productivity.  Customized learning experiences will build motivation and persistence. Targeted instruction with continuous feedback will improve learning.  This new generation of digital content will extent the high growth rates through the next decade.  In ten years, most US students will do most of their learning online and the number of students earning at home (primarily in virtual charters) will double. 
* Blended formats: most students will continue to benefit from a physical connection with a school for applied learning, tutoring and guidance, community/college connections and extracurriculars.  In ten years, most secondary students will  attend a school that blends online and onsite learning.  There will be a resurgence of private education as low cost blended formats demonstrate high quality for less than half the price of traditional prep schools.  Charter management organizations will be far more innovative and adaptive than school districts in scaling blended learning leading to renewed growth and expanding options for families.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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