One of the biggest barriers that is preventing the Education sector from wholesale technological transformation is regulation. Unlike other industries that have been disrupted due to advances in technology, Education’s “Internet Moment” is continually delayed due to 150 years of complex local, State, and Federal regulations. While many of the regulations seem impervious to market forces and disruption, there are more and more signs that people are beginning to question the existing “status quo”.
This past winter, New Jersey based Pascack Valley Regional High School attempted to make up a snow day with a “virtual day” of online learning. They had run out of snow days, and were hoping not to have to cut back on Spring Break due to the 180 school day requirement. The virtual day turned out to be a fuller day of instruction than the in-person make-up day held during April vacation. More than 95 percent of students participated during the virtual day, the superintendent said, while only about 70 percent made it to school during the in-person make up day.
It took the New Jersey Board of Education four months to decide if the virtual day counted. On June 14th, Education officials said it couldn't count as one of the required 180 school days because districts “must have their facilities available to meet the requirements of a true school day.”
Many other districts in NJ were watching the decision closely. You can see why it could have potentially opened up the floodgates of regulatory reform. If virtual learning counted for a snow day, why couldn’t it count when it was sunny outside? If the learning was deemed adequate to count towards seat time rules, it would be irrelevant what the weather outside was doing!
The seeds of change have been planted with the public. Many of the students and parents realized that the learning was real, the pace of learning was dictated by the student and the convenience factor of not having to go anywhere could not be overlooked. At Penn Foster High School, our 42,000 students take advantage of this new reality every day. We hope more districts continue to question the “status quo” and leverage technology to truly disrupt how the world learns.
How do you see technology changing our education system? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.