Putting Education Reform To The Test

Scientific American Takes A Look At The Future of Education

The exhibit hall at FETC, an annual education technology conference in Orlando.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

The exhibit hall at FETC, an annual education technology conference in Orlando.

The August issue of Scientific American takes a look at the possibilities of high-tech education.

The magazine’s editors argue that the rising demand for higher education and shrinking budgets are forcing schools to deploy new tools and methods for students.

From the introduction to the special report:

What is driving this digital revolution? One factor is that schools and universities are under greater pressure than ever before. More and more students are pursuing higher levels of education at a time when budget-strapped principals and universities cannot hire the staff they need. At the same time, governments and institutions (prodded by employers) are raising standards for what students should know at every stage of school.

Many see technology as a solution. But skeptics think it improves little on what teachers can do and poses a threat to student privacy.

Much of the special section focuses on MOOCs, or massive open online courses, that many universities have begun offering for free online. Another theme is the expanding use of data to guide education, though it is also pushing teachers to the sidelines.

The issue also features commentaries by leading education thinkers.

Historian Diane Ravitch argues that we can’t forget about the dark side of additional technology in education even if the potential is tremendous.

Peter Vesterbacka lays out his theory on why Finnish schools are so good — they’re not afraid to treat education like a game.

And Peter Norvig, director of research at Google, describes how MOOC’s can be more engaging than traditional college courses.

You can read the entire special report here.

Technology is an issue we’ve followed at StateImpact Florida. Florida K-12 schools are preparing for new shared standards and the online testing which accompanies them, and lawmakers have required half of all classroom instruction is delivered digitally by 2015.

Lawmakers have also created an online-only university, while the state’s entire higher education system looks to expand what classes are offered over the Internet.


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