It’s time for education to catch up with our technologically enhanced society. Students deserve a relevant, modern, customized education that helps them acquire 21st century skills. So does American society.
Take computer science, for instance. Employers nationwide lament a massive skills gap, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there will be a million more job openings than trained workers to fill them by 2020. Yet, according to Code.org, an organization that encourages more students to learn programming and coding skills, only 1 in 10 American high schools even offer a computer science class, let alone Advanced Placement in the subject. And fewer than 3 percent of college students earned a C.S. degree in 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Curriculum is not the only part of the system ripe for change, of course. The delivery mechanism has also remained unchanged for generations. Teachers run classes as extended lectures and send students home to complete homework assignments, often alone and confused. It’s a practice that’s particularly disadvantageous for students who lack a conducive home environment.
We need pioneering innovations to make their way into more of our schools, like the “flipped classroom” model made possible by, for example, the extraordinary Khan Academy video lectures. In this model, educational material like lectures and other video is consumed by a student alone outside of the classroom, while “homework” and other practical learning-oriented exercises are done in school, where students have access to resources and assistance.
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