Blended Learning Will Also Improve Higher Education

Imagine a world where each day children study a few rigorously designed 4-8 week curriculum modules. The modules are all online and students would choose from a database containing hundreds of them.  Personal finance, the Cold War, graphic design, botany, labor economics, Hemingway, Dutch, paleontology, the Pythagorean Theorem, Javascript.  Certain crucial modules would be mandatory. When the students complete the prescribed final evaluation they get credit for passing the module (and a badge!)

Most benefits to this system have been widely discussed. Being able to choose what you learn makes school more of a voluntary activity and less of a chore. Students are less likely to waste valuable school time daydreaming through something they don’t care about. Providing more choice may give accelerated students an easy way to graduate early, or give students who are behind a way to catch up.

One thing that has been overlooked is that a true blended learning system would improve higher education by making it easier to efficiently match students to universities. A student light years ahead in computer science would be able to show a college exactly what he can do. A student who loves history can take numerous classes to show his dedication. The college admissions process would move beyond GPA and SAT scores.

Once students begin to differentiate themselves universities might attempt to differentiate themselves too. For example, because a high school student could take as many biology classes as they wanted, schools wanting to attract top biology students could actually target the top biology students instead of being forced to target the best overall students. With a concerted effort a middling state school could become the #1 place for undergraduate biology. The result is that similar departments at different universities would begin to differentiate themselves in qualitative and quantitative ways. Undergraduate education would take on one of the best qualities of graduate education.


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