Public K12 education exists to serve its customer, society. As society changes, so must K12 education. When the United States shifted from an agrarian to an industrial economy over a century ago its educational system was transformed into the model we have today. Grade levels, terms and periods, grading curves, and credits are all artifacts of the factory school designed to create the factory workers and managers needed to power the industrial society.
Today, many have observed that our K12 educational system is broken as if something was changed to cause its demise. In fact, our schools are struggling because they have not changed to keep pace with the new information economy. While other sectors of our economy have embraced systemic change to survive, public education has implemented only piecemeal changes that have done little to address the true nature of the information age.
We believe that information technology is the catalyst that will transform education as it has other sectors of society. We have shown that by adapting and applying technology and practices used by the private sector to K12, educators can be more productive in their daily tasks, and accomplish things previously thought to be impossible.
Educators are spending an increasing amount of time performing administrative tasks; tasks that can be simplified or eliminated by technology. Streamlining time-consuming processes such as student enrollment, scheduling, attendance, and grading provides more time and resources which can be redirected toward planning and instruction.
A weakness of public K12 education is the size and scope of the problem; millions of teachers, tens of millions of students, and even more parents and guardians. With information technology, this weakness can be turned into a strength. Individual student performance will improve the more teachers interact with administrators, parents and other teachers. Moreover, enabling teachers to collaborate electronically, regardless of location, allows them to share their knowledge and experience, improving the entire system.
The industrial education model is focused on process and consistency; raw materials (students) are processed into a finite set of finished goods (graduates) using predefined processes. The information age model treats people as individuals; each student may follow his/her own path to a set of unique outcomes. This new model stresses personal growth over group averages. The key artifact of education in the information age is to personalize learning.