Wired profiles Steve Job’s point of view that technology has limited capacity to change education in the US. While there is some truth to his point of view in early education, technology is transforming college and grad school. Quote from Wired:
I used to think that technology could help education. I’ve probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I’ve had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent.
It’s a political problem. The problems are sociopolitical. The problems are unions. You plot the growth of the NEA [National Education Association] and the dropping of SAT scores, and they’re inversely proportional. The problems are unions in the schools. The problem is bureaucracy.
To some extent, I agree with this point of view. Tenure, a core value held by the NEA, is anathema to innovation in education. Privatizing schools or instilling more performance oriented management in schools is ideal. But measurement is a challenge. Measure the teacher? The student? When and how? Plus the feedback cycles are quite long. New education experiments take decades to evaluate and have high stakes – the results are the career paths of students. Grade school is the most challenging place to innovate.
Rather, I believe most of the innovation in education will occur in college and grad school where capitalism is driving change faster than most realize. Students are evaluating their return on investment as tuition increases at 8% annually at public schools. As a result, colleges must compete with better services: more effective, more convenient education. Technology is a differentiator for colleges – new labs, new research facilities, new online programs. This is why we invested in 2Tor, a company that allows colleges to offer full degree programs over the internet. Already, 2Tor has brought USC, UNC and Georgetown degree programs online. Students seeking more convenience and no relocation costs attend classes virtually.
Education will be revolutionized by technology driven by competition among colleges.