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EDUCATION REPORT - Book Predicts Jump in High School Courses Online

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Computers have been used in teaching for more than twenty years. But a new book says that only now are they changing education. And it predicts that a lot more is about to happen.

Alex Torres of Caldwell, Idaho, shown at his computer at home, plans to enroll at the iSucceed Virtual High School this fall
Alex Torres of Caldwell, Idaho, shown at his computer at home, plans to enroll at the iSucceed Virtual High School this fall

The book is called "Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns."

"Disruptive innovation" is a theory developed by lead author Clayton Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School. He says organizations almost always use new, creative technology only to continue what they already do.

New technology should change organizations, he says, disrupt them in a good way. They should use the technology to do things differently -- for example, to serve more needs.

The new book says the needed disruptive force in education is computer-based learning.

Michael Horn, another author of "Disrupting Class," told us about a Boston public school that he visited. Every student at Lilla G. Frederick Middle School in Dorchester, Massachusetts, has a laptop computer.

One class was learning about storms. Michael Horn says the laptops made it possible to truly individualize the lessons, to divide materials by ability level and learning style. At the end, the students all took part in a discussion led by the teacher.

Computer-based learning offers a way for students to take advanced courses not offered at their school, or to retake classes they failed. It also serves those who cannot physically attend school, and students who receive home schooling or need tutoring.

Computer-based learning includes online courses. Enrollments in online courses have grown sharply. In two thousand seven, the United States had about one million enrollments, not including college courses. Students could be enrolled in more than one course, through schools or education companies.

High school students make up about seventy percent of the enrollments. Still, nationally, only about one percent of all high school courses last year were taught online.

But the authors of "Disrupting Class" predict it will be ten percent in about six years. And their research suggests that the number will be about fifty percent by twenty nineteen. And Michael Horn says the future of online learning could be even greater in developing countries.

We'll talk more about online learning next week.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Our reports are online with transcripts and MP3s at www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember.

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