Ben Wallace, in the Linked in Group “Our System” highlighted a website called the Khan Academy which is essentially a free online school. Its goal is, “With a library of over 2,400 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 125 practice exercises, we’re on a mission to help you learn whatever you want, whenever you want, at your own pace.” Ben opened the discussion with the question, “The Future of Education?”
I commented as follows:
A website like this can really help a lot of people, all around the world. But, an obvious question that comes up right away is, ‘why hasn’t the U.S. tried to implement something like this to reduce the cost of U.S. Education?’ This is actually a very old question. In 1970, Stanford was already using microwave links to provide closed circuit remote access classes, including two way voice. Video tape was becoming available, so classes could have been created on tape for distribution. At slightly more cost, classes could have been distributed on 16mm film. So, it isn’t really a technology issue. There were political forces that didn’t want it to happen. Since k-12 and college education, both in the private and public sectors, is so far behind education in the corporate and military sectors, it seems the same forces are still blocking the change.
I can provide a specific example. Around 1984, I submitted a Small Business Innovative Research grant request which would demonstrate that a graphics computer could be put on every desk in the U.S. For under $200 per station. This was based on the Radio Shack color computer. The grant was rejected. I checked into the rejection. The White House ( i.e. Reagan ) got directly involved. I was told, Reagan said he “didn’t think computers would ever amount to anything in education.”