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May 22, 2008

Oil and online education

I was reading the Wall Street Journal this morning on my Kindle (more to come on the Kindle itself) and I saw that the latest reports on oil fields and their productivity are not particularly encouraging. According to the article, the IEA (International Energy Agency), while in its early stages of assessing current oil field health, may be about to significantly reduce its outlook for the ability of supply to meet demand.

What does this have to do with online education? We are already seeing steady and significant increases in all forms of online education for many reasons. This year, I heard of one K-12 district in Wisconsin that is facing exploding student growth and had all bonds voted down to build a new high school. The result: the district is considering a blended approach where students alternate days in class with days spent in online classes – essentially half the students are physically in school on alternating days. While this particular district is facing a unique situation, energy economics are affecting all schools.

Across the country, community newspapers have similar headlines: Schools face shortfall in fuel budgets. Has anyone started to ask the question: what would happen if we went to a 4-day school week with 1 day online? How much would that potentially save our school systems? Could a sharp oil increase (far beyond what we have today) be the catalyst for looking at new models?

There are many implications for making such changes but I would be interested to know if anyone has seen stories from schools considering reduced weeks.

Posted by Rovy at May 22, 2008 12:05 PM