Like so many other novelties that surround us these days, from iPods to YouTube to Wikipedia, they are expressions of a profound social force—the revolution in information technology—that while still in process, is fast generating one of the most important transformations in all of human history. Because we are all enmeshed in this revolution every day, most of us are naturally inclined to take it for granted as a normal part of our lives, and to have a difficult time appreciating the enormity of its longer-term implications. But the fact is, it is radically changing our world.
The information revolution has globalized the international economy, made communication and social networking—among anyone, anywhere—virtually instantaneous and costless, put vast storehouses of information and research within reach of everyone on the planet, dramatically boosted the prospects of cooperation and collective action, internationalized the cultures of previously insulated nations, and in countless other ways transformed the fundamentals of human society. The new schools in Oklahoma and Ohio are an integral part of all this. They are among the first stirrings of a revolution in how children can learn and be educated.
The possibilities are exciting—and astounding. Even today, with educational technology in its earliest stages:
Curricula can be customized to meet the learning styles and life situations of individual students, giving them productive alternatives to the boring standardization of traditional schooling. Education can be freed from geographic constraint: students and teachers do not have to meet in a building within a school within a district, but can be anywhere, doing their work at any time. Students can have more...