This TechCrunch post Pathwright Launches Platform To Let Anyone Create, Sell Branded Online Courses is a must read.
“Each course comes with a built-in social network for every student taking the course, allowing students to share notes, ask or answer discussion questions, and receive grades and feedback from teachers. Teachers can then publish their courses is a built-in, branded catalog and sell them directly, make them invitation-only, or offer monthly subscriptions that unlock all the courses. Educators can also offer online-only or location-based courses, or both, may be self-paced, or on a schedule with varying degrees of teacher interaction.”
Now, what is described above is happening today. Thinking towards the future, perhaps teachers are prepared, not with courses, but with modules of experience embedded where learning happens – wherever that may be. Higher ed as we know it just ended; so, teacher preparation as we know it just ended as well.
In the future, teacher apprentices work with mentor teachers. Perhaps approach action research in conjunction with (or leading) “social entrepreneurs” by challenging them to solve a problem of Equity. Perhaps teacher mentors and teacher apprentices work with the future equivalent of today’s Stanford’s Innovations in Education course or those at Harvard Business School in Social Innovation Lab? (See Social Entrepreneurs Try to Offer Solutions to Problems in K-12) (Let’s don’t forget MIT’s Media Lab.) Instead of Race to the Top, perhaps it is Race for Equity?
Three examples of challenge sets (action research) put forth for these teacher apprentices and social entrepreneurs in the Race for Equity could be (1) close the Participation Gap (Pew Internet Report Digital Differences: Separate and Unequal in Digital Media); (2) reboot the public library system to continue the democratic ideal of free access to information and ideas by creating ebook or emedia repositories not tied to one format, such as Apple or Amazon, and checking out ereaders and mini-WIFI connectivity (See ZDNET series on the Digital Underclass); and (3) link economic development with education and wrap-around services in rural areas, including reservations for Indigenous populations and under served urban and suburban areas, e.g. lighting up dark fiber, National Broadband Plan, and the Summit on the Role of Education in Economic Development in Rural America, at which Education Secretary Duncan recently spoke. Further, numerous applications for special needs through universal access could be thought of, especially with the rise of Autism.
It is important to note that standards (Common Core or others in the future) not be used. Why? It’s important that standards not be used if going to scale and designing relevant, engaging curriculum (HOTS), global reach/partnerships, and application of Equity solutions on a worldwide market that are “made in America” AND can be replicated elsewhere. (See EdWeek commentary Does the Common Core Matter?) A universal language in learning products can be used. Digital Bloom Verbs provide a solution in content/product development and distribution would be the solution. Products could be tweaked considering the availability of infrastructure and mobility, e.g. low-tech, high-tech, bandwidth, etc. Ultimately, benefiting all children.