Justin Reich posted an interesting blog on his edtech site suggesting that Open Educational Resources (OER) will expand (Scenario 2) rather than contract (scenario 1) the achievement gap. It caused an interesting debate on Audrey Water’s site.
As I point out in Getting Smart, technology is amplifying teacher and parent effects. As Justin points out, edtech and the subset of open resources will likely expand rather than contracting the achievement gap. Well supported top performing students will learn more faster. More students should be able to start college work early.
The good news is that edtech, and OER in particular, will lift the floor of opportunity for every student. Where states allow, digital learning is creating better access to quality content and great teachers for all students. Over the next four years, nearly every state will adopt online assessment. Most districts will shift to predominently digital instructional materials. They will collaborate to improve student access to technology. Digital learning will narrow the preparation gap–the percentage of students prepared for college and careers.
Justin points in the direction of the solutions outlined in several Digital Learning Now recommendations:
1. All students are digital learners: no barriers to access of content or courses.
9. Funding should be weighted, portable, and performance-based. That means kids that bring more risk factors to school should bring money with them.
10. Infrastructure supports digital learning. That means schools should provide every student with an access device or create a high access environment (BYOD) where every student as access. Cities and states should work with broadband providers to extend access to low income communities and rural areas.
Where states and districts are proactive about extending learning opportunities, the preparation gap will narrow and that means more young people will have a shot at participating in the idea economy.