From the Oregonian guest column “Technology overhaul can transform schools to help fix U.S. education” by Colin Karr-Morse, former principal of Lincoln and Marshall high schools in Portland (here):
Almost everything we do in our schools, from placing students into grade levels to using letter grades, is archaic. Lacking the tools and resources needed to provide dynamic, individualized lessons appropriate in this information age, our teachers must do the best they can in the pre-information-age environment in which they must function.
Just before the Civil War, America made use of the Pony Express to move information from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento at a rate of about 10 miles per hour. When the telegraph line was completed and could move information almost instantly, the Pony Express went immediately out of business. No amount of reform could make ponies competitive with the telegraph in terms of moving information.
Today, in this age of exploding information capabilities, our schools are the Pony Express of our time. The technologies they use (textbooks, teacher talk, blackboards, etc.) are as incapable of competing with modern means of information exchange as the Pony Express was in competing with the telegraph.
Our culture has the tools and know-how needed to bring our archaic schools back into touch with the real educational needs of today's students, but none of the current so-called reform efforts has even understood the problem, much less found any authentic solutions…..
I agree, but Karr-Morse goes on to call for a national effort. I think we could do much more right here in Oregon by aggressively, but thoughtfully, pursuing online education efforts.