Schools Without Walls

03/31/2010  |  RON REIS
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Since the beginning of time, the human race has always had a natural desire to learn through the environment it inhabits, and as a result of our species’ evolution, we have learned how to adapt to the changes in the societies we have created, and thus continue learning. Our knowledge and skills have continued developing as we set the bar higher and higher each time, and we adapt to the changes we create.

But what happens when society is advancing at a greater rate than an individual? How can an individual be prepared for the new challenges in society if they are still only catching up or getting acquainted with the previous changes?

There are few things remaining constant in our ever-changing world, but one that has arguably remained rather static is the thousands of primary and secondary education institutions across the U.S. American classrooms are trailing behind the achievements and evolution of American society.

In fact, many educational experts would agree that America’s elementary, middle and high schools are still teaching in the “Chalk and Talk” format, a format which is no longer as effective as it once was back in the days when the world was not as globalized as it is today. Considering the technological advancements society has made, why is it that many instructors are still unable to facilitate education for each individual learner?

In order for students to succeed in today’s modern world and beyond, classroom instruction needs to adapt its teachings to lessons that will be beneficial in the world existing beyond the classroom door. For starters, technological advancements such as the Internet, literally present a window to the world all around us. The use of this technology in the classroom exposes students to additional information resources asides from their classroom text books, thus allowing instructors to teach beyond the classroom. In theory, it provides a global classroom.

Technology in society has improved the way we communicate, so why would it not do the same for our classrooms? As a result of society’s investments in technology, we are able to communicate instantly and effortlessly with one another. Seeing that communications have truly become global in almost every aspect of our lives, it is no longer a question about having access, but a question of what to do with the access.

Multi-national companies across the globe are continuously exchanging information on an ongoing basis around the clock, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Similarly, America’s classrooms would benefit greatly from the continuous information exchanges with peers from across the globe. Students participating in this exchange can learn from across all geographies, institutions, but most importantly, across all cultures - enriching each and every one of the lives of those participating in the information exchange.

By providing students with more than the traditional teaching methods, teachers can foster greater learning and facilitate classroom instruction by using tools that will appeal to and benefit all the different types of learners. The changes in our classrooms must reflect the changes we are experiencing in society today — it must be simultaneous.

In our society, globalization is no longer a theory, it is a reality; and it will not be long before educational systems fully understand and implement these changes, but will it be too late? Until virtual reality becomes our new reality, traditional schools are here to stay. For the time being, students want and need to experience education on a personal level beyond the fast-paced exchange of information in the digital world. The addition of technologies will further advance institutional instruction, and we can only hope our nation’s classrooms will catch up and soon utilize these global resources.

Ron Reis is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of YOUniversityTV. For information, visit www.youniversitytv.com.

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