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alstry (35.93)

Will $500 Oil Drive Schools Online?

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February 16, 2010 – Comments (14)

A fast-growing number of Minnesota K-12 students are migrating from the classroom to a home computer, in what some experts say is the vanguard of an online education revolution that's altering how and where many students learn.

Enrollment in full- and part-time public online programs has nearly doubled in a two-year period -- going from 4,500 to 8,000 students last year, about 1 percent of the state's student body.

Advocates say online courses reach students for whom classrooms can be social or logistical minefields: teen moms, elite athletes, bully victims. Many previously home-schooled students now take courses online.

http://www.startribune.com/local/84353507.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

The issue with this trend is that it drives job cuts, less real estate utilization, and more efficient distribution requiring much less fuel usage......when you have an economy structured for growth, the consequences are disruptive and convulsive.

The industrial age is dying quickly....the question is how will society move into the digital age.

Detroit and Kansas City shuttering half the public schools.

Colombus Ohio leveling over a millions square feet of retail space.

Netflix shuttering millions of square feet of video store space.

It is not the end of the world, simply the end of a world as we know it.

14 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 16, 2010 at 9:54 AM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

Alstry, most kids have to be in regular style school because both parents work. Having all children stay home and be homeschooled is an idea that WWII made impossible.

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#2) On February 16, 2010 at 10:01 AM, alstry (35.93) wrote:

Welcome to change....what happens when both parents are not working?

Change happens....get used to it accelerating.

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#3) On February 16, 2010 at 10:10 AM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

Alstry, the gospel you are preaching is called "disintermediation". It got a lot of attention about 10 years ago. But the percentage of the population working will go up not down.

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#4) On February 16, 2010 at 10:22 AM, carcassgrinder (39.93) wrote:

chk999...

and more and more of that increased population working will also be working from their homes. 

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#5) On February 16, 2010 at 10:35 AM, alstry (35.93) wrote:

Over time, I agree with you.  10 years ago we were spending huge amounts of capital and hiring many workers developing such a future.

But during THIS period of ADOPTION of technology....we are currently losing large numbers of jobs to efficiency....couple that with deleveraging and I can't think of any historical period that compares as far as speed and impact.

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#6) On February 16, 2010 at 11:07 AM, milleniumfalcon (< 20) wrote:

Just a couple of not totally random notes here. 

First, chk999 is correct, more parents will be working. Given that salaries have stagnated over the last few decades, it is almost not possible for a one income family to survive anymore. That's just a fact. People cannot afford to leave their kids at home if it means that one parent has to stay home as well.

Second, while you are correct that industrialism might be dead (in the West), you are also overlooking the fact that while people with skills and training in technology, etc. can telecommute, the other group of people are working in the service industry of some sort. Nurses need to be at clinics. Greeters have to be at Wal-Mart. Someone has to drop the fries in the fryer at McDonalds. Public speaking professors have to be in the classroom. Etc. Likewise, even those businesses where telecommuting can occur, it often doesn't because management is too Tayloristic in its thinking.

Third,  I think the idea isn't that schools will die out and go online, but that suburbia will shrink, and requisite systems will shrink with them. I used to walk to school. In fact there were no buses at all to my high school. Period. Why? Because the school was local. If anything that is what will happen again to school systems. They aren't destroying downtown Detroit, they are tearing up Detroit's blighted areas and suburbs and turning them into parks, returning them to nature, etc. The same is happening in other cities. 

Fourth, there are some things that being online cannot teach people that are necessary for life in the adult world. How to manage relationships is a one. Face it, that's one of the big things we learn in school. How to handle successes and failure (academic or in the sport of our choice). Teamwork can only be learned with and through others. Speaking in front of an audience can only happen face to face. Immediate feedback can only happen face to face. My GF teaches English to the Chinese online. She has noticed that they are awesome in math and science, but they have (in general) the creativeness and inventiveness of gnats. Why? Because all they do is memorize.

Sitting in front of a computer taking an online test is no way to become educated. Sure, you may memorize things, but that isn't really learning. Learning is the ability to sift, turn, rearrange, combobulate, recombine and manipulate ideas into something new.

 

I'll shut-up now. 

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#7) On February 16, 2010 at 11:19 AM, SkinneeJ (28.40) wrote:

Hmmmm...  While I do see the trend of more people working from home (including myself), I don't see how students learning from home is a negative in terms of short term economic impacts...

First of all, I respect teachers 100%, but they are usually on the government payroll.  If students learned from their computer, wouldn't they seek out the best teachers and put some "free market" back into the school system?  I would imagine that there could be fees associated by which teacher you choose...  Not only that, but there would be potential to redirect property taxes (that pay for schools) towards home learning type of programs. Furthermore, imagine how much more efficient the education system might be if every activity (homework, exams, pop-quiz, grades, etc) could be packaged in one software system.  You would have real time measurements of teacher performance, etc (for instance, if all teachers gave the same exam, the teacher that has the class with the higher grades might be a "better" teacher).

 Next, if they are going to learn online, then that means that they need a computer, webcam, software, etc.  Isn't that good for the technology sector?

Also, if less people are using fuel, doesn't that drive the demand down as well as prices?  I know that you are counting on inflation here to put the price of oil at $500, and one day it will be there, but it won't happen overnight.  Lower oil prices are always good for the consumer.

 One more thing to think about, if online schools truly take off, isn't this something that could be "exported"?  For instance, if some kid in Japan wants to learn about "American History", then couldn't they pay money and sign up for an online course which brings more money into the USA?

Anyway, I think that you point out that technology is one  of the true "exports" that we have left.  Unfortunately, intellectual property is so easily copied.  How much longer will patents, copywrights, trademarks, etc protect our "wealth"?

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#8) On February 16, 2010 at 11:51 AM, milleniumfalcon (< 20) wrote:

"Wouldn't they seek out the best teachers and put some "free market" back into the school system?"

.....or would they pick out the easiest teachers? Honestly, some students are simply lazy.

 "...imagine how much more efficient the education system might be if every activity (homework, exams, pop-quiz, grades, etc) could be packaged in one software system."

...only if efficiency is equated with quality, which is not always the case. McDonald's is fast, but is it good or good for you? 

"...if all teachers gave the same exam, the teacher that has the class with the higher grades might be a "better" teacher"

...might be, but not necessarily. Sometimes a teacher simply has better students in one class than in another. I teach a bunch of different classes, but two of them are sections of the same class. One class is vastly superior on exams, etc., then the other, even though I teach the exact same stuff in both classes. Plus this type of measurement would put pressure on teachers to give all As, because you'll get more students and make more money. That's the trouble with these kinds of measurements. The measurement I liked best so far in my career: "We like you Dr. Falcon because you are kinda a pain in the a**." Which means I work them hard, but they learn a lot.

Also, I worked in IT for a long time before I became a teacher, so I give students a totally different outlook than someone who has been a teacher all their lives. So I may not cover the 'material' as closely as someone else, but they get lots of RL examples that will carry them past my classroom to success.

For example, I tell them things such as "You can be an awesome computer programmer, but if you cannot weave your way through corporate politics, you may find yourself unemployed over and over again." And much of that would not be on a standardized test, but it is no less important to doey-eyed students who get a really good glimpse into how corporations really work and how to stay employed over the long term. It isn't like the old days. The squeaky wheel does not get the grease. The squeaky wheel gets fired.

I am not saying that education doesn't need to be reformed. It truly does. However, standardization and evaluation will not help create the next Google, the next iPod, the next TMF. For that you need imagination on top of knowledge, something standardization cannot provide

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#9) On February 16, 2010 at 12:10 PM, davejh23 (< 20) wrote:

"First, chk999 is correct, more parents will be working. Given that salaries have stagnated over the last few decades, it is almost not possible for a one income family to survive anymore. That's just a fact. People cannot afford to leave their kids at home if it means that one parent has to stay home as well."

Greed has driven both parents into the workplace, not necessity.  Wages may have stagnated, but the size of the average home has doubled over the last 50 years as the size of the average family has shrunk.  Both parents wouldn't need to work if people were satisfied with 1,500 sq. ft. and 1 car.  Most second incomes aren't spent on necessities, they're spent on daycare, car payments, leisure, etc...  Without the shift towards dual income households we probably wouldn't have most of the economic problems we have today...auto sales wouldn't have expanded beyond reason and then collapsed, we wouldn't have had the housing boom and bust (at least not the same magnitude), etc...  One average income would be enough to afford an average home and provide necessities...in fact, it still is enough in most areas...  Children without a parent at home generally underperform their peers at school and are more likely to get in trouble with the law...I understand that some families have no choice, but for those that do, is this cost worth it?

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#10) On February 16, 2010 at 1:07 PM, SkinneeJ (28.40) wrote:

.....or would they pick out the easiest teachers? Honestly, some students are simply lazy.

I didn't picture the 12 year old as the one with the checkbook! :)  I kind of envisioned that the adult would register them and pay for the service.

...only if efficiency is equated with quality, which is not always the case. McDonald's is fast, but is it good or good for you? 

That's not really a fair comparison.  Efficiency in price is only one part of it.  I'm really talking about the system as a whole.  Think about why people want to leverage technology in the first place.  What's the point of a corporation spending millions of dollars on a CRM system and developing business intelligence solutions to generate reports? It's more visibility, accountability, more metrics, etc.  What I am saying is that this doesn't really exist (or loosely exists) in the public school system today.  Lost homework?  Never again, it's online...  Parent want to check the grade on that last test?  Go ahead, it's online...  Etc, etc, etc...

 ...might be, but not necessarily. Sometimes a teacher simply has better students in one class than in another. I teach a bunch of different classes, but two of them are sections of the same class. One class is vastly superior on exams, etc., then the other, even though I teach the exact same stuff in both classes. Plus this type of measurement would put pressure on teachers to give all As, because you'll get more students and make more money.

Well, not exactly.  If it's a standardized curriculum, pop-quizzes, tests, etc there isn't a whole lot of room for the teacher to "give more A's".  Also, I hear you about the "better class",but we are talking about metrics over time.  If everything is electronic, you not only have the teacher profile, but the student profile.  You could easily weight in student aptitude vs teacher aptitude, etc.  It's computers man!  The possibilities are endless.  You could move students between classes with a click of a mouse.  Business Intelligence is getting pretty big nowadays.  You could evolve these decision support systems in schools as well.  It won't happen now because the government doesn't have the cheese to do so.

Today, the process is pretty loose.  A teach is given a curriculum and can come up with their own tests, quizzes, etc and influence the grades.  It's much harder to do that on standardized tests, etc.  It will put a lot more pressure on the teacher to "be good".  The idea is, over time the teacher can be graded by how well their students do on standardized tests throughout the school year.  The teachers with the highest student marks may attract more parents that want them to teach their kids.  So, more demand on the "better" teachers, and less demand on "worse" teachers.  You can let the parents figure out if they like the metrics or not and what they are willing to pay to get their kids in the best class.  Also, for those teachers that end up at the bottom of the barrel, they won't last that long without a paycheck!

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#11) On February 16, 2010 at 1:10 PM, SkinneeJ (28.40) wrote:

Also, I worked in IT for a long time before I became a teacher, so I give students a totally different outlook than someone who has been a teacher all their lives. So I may not cover the 'material' as closely as someone else, but they get lots of RL examples that will carry them past my classroom to success

And that is perfectly fine as that won't be taken from you with a webcam.  The sessions can still be live interaction over a webcam.  But this is a "value add" proposition.  Most of us have jobs where we have a core set of responsibilities (standardized tests in this case) and ways to go "above and beyond" (as  you mention).  There are several ways to grade a teacher, just like a lot of calculations go into a QB rating.  The parent satisfaction survey could be a factor of this.

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#12) On February 16, 2010 at 1:25 PM, Melaschasm (52.18) wrote:

Digital education (online or via software installed on a computer), will allow more students to learn more with fewer teachers.  The early adopters for this technology will be the rapidly growing home school market, and the traditional private schools.  Once the cost of private school education is driven down by such technology, many more middle class parents will opt to spend a bit extra to provide their kids with superior education (compared to their public school options).

Teachers unions will fight against the adoption of digital education, long after the evidence shows it is a far superior way to teach children.  Eventually public schools will adopt some form of digital education, but this is going to take a long time.

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#13) On February 16, 2010 at 1:31 PM, milleniumfalcon (< 20) wrote:

You have all made excellent points!

These are all the reasons why I am leaving the teaching profession at the end of this year.

These and the S*it pay.

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#14) On February 16, 2010 at 2:57 PM, PSU69 (87.37) wrote:

alstry.....Hope you are well today. May I have some data to support the claim regarding Columbus? I agree with you about home schooling accelerating. My brother's business serves home school and he is thriving. Many people are fed up with the lack of public school educational results. Personally, my wife and I invested in private ed for our sons until they decided to join the larger public high school for social reasons. Both are now swimming well in society and paying taxes. We also have the pig going thru the snake (B-Boomers passing thru their life cycle). This adds demographic shifts and lots of movement of humans away from old mfgrg work neighborhoods, thus exacerbating the price erosion of homes.

Did you read the Branson study yet?  Virgin Air founder hired some large brains to study the supply/demand situation of oil.  They came back and reported oil will be oversold in five years, primarily due to the India and China consumption rate dynamic.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/robnelson44140

 

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