Education has changed forever. And it keeps changing.  The first generation who grew up with smart phones is now hitting college. How different is their learning style? Totally. Here’s the basics:

  • Forget the idea that you can send your kids worry-free to the neighborhood school
  • Forget trusting the school to teach your children
  • Forget all your ideas of students being empty eager vessels to fill full of knowledge
  • And forget the idea that if they get into college, they are on the right track and the parents can kick-back thinking that their job is now done.

Why? Because times have changed. Technology, the school systems, the students, and the careers that they are preparing for. Lets start with the students…

The youth of today are very sophisticated in terms of use of technology and have, compared to previous generations, the attention span of a gnat. They multitask constantly and are more comfortable with a keyboard or touch screen than with a pad of paper.  And while they are savvy tech users that does not mean that they have any sophistication in technology and trends. High school kids today cannot imagine a pre-Facebook world.

Education today is built on the idea of choice. Make no special decisions and implicitly, you’ve made some choices for your students. Should your children be in virtual public schools? How about public magnet or charter schools? Should they be blending some virtual with some bricks and mortar schools.  With around 3% of the population being homeschooled at any given time, it’s likely that around 7% of the students graduating today were homeschooled for at least one year during their K12 education! Online education is now mainstream with colleges, grad schools and continuing education all offering traditional, blended, and online options. Even the traditional is technology infused.

The work force needs for careers today and tomorrow are changing rapidly. With company stability diminishing most workers will work for 10-15 companies during their career and spend some time as their own boss (and marketing manager and strategy executive) during their career.  Training for this dynamic future is quite different than preparing for the long stable corporate careers of just one generation ago.

Our people are now, as Marc Prensky called them a decade or so ago: “Digital Natives” with skills and a mindset suited to today’s technical realities. Learning styles have evolved as have our diagnostic tools and categories of learning styles and the dysfunctions. The skills are different too with analytics, algorithms, & web researching becoming mainstream skills.  And while public schools still dominate the educational system, homeschooling and virtual schools are the two hottest growth areas in education. They’re cost effective and they can work!

How different is today’s technology- Well, remember that just fifteen years ago, twenty volume sets of encyclopedias were being sold as a primary information resource. How quaint it seems today!

The amazing internet  accelerated the information revolution and has totally changed the nature of  communication and organization. Today’s companies and schools are different. Entire layers of middle managers are gone from America ‘s corporations.

Today, entry level employees receive  and respond to emails and calls directly from company executives, a level and type of communication that would have been infeasible and unthinkable, just a decade or so ago. Telecommuting has gone from fringe to mainstream. Email, once exotic and unreliable, is increasingly the main internal form of communication. Video conferencing too is shifting into the mainstream with video conferences and Google Hangouts becoming routine. reports on the successful paradigms for today’s learners in this new economy.

The numbers on education. Private and parochial schools are in decline with around 10% of the population. Homeschooling continues to grow with around 3% of the K12 population opting to do it their own way.  Charter schools are growing and are approaching 3%.  The rest are in the public schools. The magnet programs used to be a growth sector within the public schools. The major growth sectors today are the virtual schools and the remote learning component within the bricks and mortar schools and homeschooling.

What should parents look for in a home schooling curriculum?  Are the virtual schools a real education or just a way to earn credentials?  Are the learning games such as unscramble, hangman, crossword puzzle, and wordsearch an important educational tool for word study or just busy work?  What are the best resources for building writing skills?  What’s the best way to give students a strong STEM foundation? Read on to find out.

This web resource is free and provides an overview of information related to reading skills, school choice including charter schools and homeschooling, STEM skills, and how to navigate the choices that today’s learners face. This site is full of good advice but it is highly commercial in nature, supported largely by it’s sponsors which are the divisions of Online education Inc.

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