To the Editor:
I want to congratulate you on an excellent edition of your annual Technology Counts special report (March 26, 2009). It is interesting to note that among the many positive statements about technology’s potential and examples of how it is being introduced successfully at the margins of the education market, Douglas A. Levin of the National Association of State Boards of Education takes aim at Clayton M. Christensen’s recent book Disrupting Class in the article “Virtual Approaches Vary.”
Mr. Levin rejects Mr. Christensen’s prediction that half of all high school classes will be taught online by 2019 on the basis of policy concerns about quality. But many of Technology Counts’ articles point to how much quality has improved in a short period of time. Just as Mr. Christensen has described, early entries into the educational technology field provide underserved markets with products that are “better than nothing” (such as online Advanced Placement courses where none can be offered). Over time, as the technology improves and as your report makes clear, the products are as good as or better than those traditionally available.
If the exponential growth of technology in general is any indication, we will reach a tipping point, probably before 2019, when critical budget constraints, a lack of qualified human capital, and the demand from students and parents for individualized learning will indeed make Mr. Christensen’s prediction come true.
San Francisco, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the April 22, 2009 edition of Education Week as Technology’s ‘Tipping Point’ May Increase Online Classes