July 16, 2019

Online Schools vs. Brick and Mortar: What Does the Future Hold?

Should Teachers Feel Their Job is Threatened by Technology?

I recently heard an excellent podcast (audio recording) “Getting an Education on the Internet,” Sept 22, 2009 regarding online schools vs. traditional brick and mortar schools. Although the talk was focused on Higher Ed (college), I felt it an applicable discussion for all levels of education.

Take a listen:

I want to address one comment that teachers are feeling threatened that technology is replacing their jobs.

What is not being talked about in this podcast is the everyday-man’s reality, something far more pressing to most (by necessity) than their children’s daily education. It is the current culture and economics, and how our current education system fits into them.

1. As long as both parents have to work to support their family financially they’ll need a place to send their kids during the day. Brick and mortar K-12 schools will not be replaced unless radical changes in our culture or economy takes place or our government stops funding them.

In fact, without a radical change to our entire capitalistic society, I don’t think K-12 teachers need to feel threatened about technology replacing them. Instead, I recommend they embrace and utilize it to make their already difficult lives a lot easier.


2. Once students reach teen- or adulthood they either have or are making a life outside of mom and dad. That’s when they need and want hybrid or online classes in order to further their education and advancement to make that money (required to have or support a family in today’s economy).  Right now, hybrid and line have advantages for college professors:

“Rapidly improving online curriculum creates a way to lower the cost of instruction, both to institutions and to students. Through fully online and hybrid courses, institutions can serve more students without proportional investments in physical facilities, allowing them to reduce tuition. Students also can save the cost of relocating for part or all of their college experience. Thanks to lower tuition and reduced cost of attendance, the number of college students is likely to grow in the future, and with it the need for instructors. (An example of this virtuous cycle can be seen at BYU-Idaho, which is described in detail in The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out.) 

The earning potential of instructors will also grow, but pay will be tied increasingly to personal skill and performance. Online curriculum allows students to replace traditional lectures and textbook readings and problem sets with interactive, computer adaptive tutorials. It also allows them to collaborate with and learn from one another outside of the classroom. This puts the human instructor in a position to take students to higher levels of discussion and understanding than before, whether that discussion occurs online or in a classroom. The value of outstanding instruction will grow. 

So will the ability to measure it. Online curriculum facilitates the measurement of learning outcomes. Also, its standardization makes the differences in student achievement from one section to another more easily attributable to instructor performance. Good teachers, in other words, can be identified and paid more. “



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