The future of education: the distributed school and customized learning
April 01, 2014
Ever since my friend Albert and his wife Susan have started to homeschool their kids, I have been thinking about the best ways to make custom learning more accessible to kids, families, and adults alike.
Albert and Susan have taken an innovative approach to homeschooling (if interested, you can read more about their experiences here). They recently devised the idea to hire individual guides for each of their three children. Part concierge, part program manager and part learning specialist, these guides are responsible for creating a learning program tailored to each child.
Guides need to explore the child’s specific areas of interest (which means finding and coordinating time with skilled experts and arranging field trips), as well as building the child’s basic skills in reading, writing, presenting, researching, and analyzing in pursuit of their interests. In this way, the guide doesn’t necessarily have to have specific expertise in the child’s areas of interest, but they need to be able to coordinate access to the right tutors, experts, and resources. This goal is to give each child a fully customized education that encourages them to grow and learn by pursuing the topics that mean something to them.
Running this level of a homeschooling program is no easy feat. Parents need to find and select the right guides; the guides need to coordinate the right tutors and experts for each child. On an individual level, it can be extremely costly and time-intensive. But what if there were a distributed school that followed the same principles? For example, a school or learning platform that gave parents easy access to available guides and tutors for their kids to create a custom education.
This school could be tied to a physical space, although it’s not necessary. It would be a mix of online and offline teaching. It could offer existing courses from other institutions if there was a fit. And to make the program more affordable, a guide could be shared by 3-4 kids, and specialized tutors could be shared as well.
The prospect of such a custom learning experience makes me very excited and I hope that somebody will build a distributed school soon. Our family would be one of the first customers.