New designs for education

A couple of articles have recently talked about new designs in education. Fast Company notes that:

The edupunks are on the march. From VC-funded startups to the ivied walls of Harvard, new experiments and business models are springing up from entrepreneurs, professors, and students alike. Want a class that's structured like a role-playing game? An accredited bachelor's degree for a few thousand dollars? A free, peer-to-peer Wiki university? These all exist today, the overture to a complete educational remix.

The architects of education 2.0 predict that traditional universities that cling to the string-quartet model will find themselves on the wrong side of history, alongside newspaper chains and record stores. "If universities can't find the will to innovate and adapt to changes in the world around them," professor David Wiley of Brigham Young University has written, "universities will be irrelevant by 2020."

Home schooling in the US has doubled in the last decade according to a report in the Economist, estimating that 3% of school age children are now educated at home – in part due to easy availability of information both to teach with and to swap information with other homeschoolers.

And in another Economist article there is a report on Quest to Learn "a new, taxpayer-funded school in that city (NYC) which is about to open its doors to pupils who will never suffer the indignity of snoring through double French but will, rather, spend their entire days playing games"

The article notes that much of the teaching will be transferred from teaches to the video games that students will learn through studying, in 90 minute blocks, various game based 'domains'

A recent 93-page report on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education, has a starchy academic title, but a most intriguing conclusion: "On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction."

This change in the way education is provided (and/or the way people learn) appears set to shake up traditional educational institutions in new and unpredictable ways. Their designs require radical rethinks if they are to compete with newer ways of educating.