Today, I'd like to step away from the minutiae and talk about the future of education, specifically digital or distance learning as it is being applied in K-12 education. It's a subject that has enormous implications for grant seekers. We've seen a disruption occurring in higher education. Brick and mortar schools are developing their own distance twins with great success (and profits) to respond to a growing demand for online degrees. Much of what is happening has received its genesis from grants.
But what about K-12 education? What is the future of public and private education for cities and towns, including charter schools? Now that schools are cutting the cords and have cured their fear of tablet theft with clever device tracking, we are seeing foundations and corporations developing partnerships with schools to devise futuristic educational models for upgrading traditional school environments. Mobile computing and brilliant approaches to learning like Khan Academy are revolutionizing the role of the classroom teacher.
I was reading a book about this the other day: The Mobile Wave by Michael Saylor. It's actually copyright 2012; that's old in the world of educational change these days. He said:
As of 2009, there were about 3.1 million K-12 teachers in public schools, with an average base salary of $49,030, for a total payroll of $152 billion per year. The open-source instruction from MIT and Yale, on the other hand, is free. And even if an expert like (Stephen) Hawking or (Bill) Clinton charged a million dollars for recording the material that would be used, that would be a one-time price for material usable for years by millions in educational systems worldwide.1
This, of course, is taken out of context, but the idea remains that classes in physics and political science would no longer need a master's level teacher in the classroom. You can see the appeal for local governments. With distance portals at hand, students could be greeted by classroom tech monitors who would help them log in and avail themselves of the best and the brightest, over and over for free. Or, how about the role and future of home schooling?
I know what you're saying, "the unions will never stand for it." We are seeing a shift change in the way unions are perceiving reality even now. These seemingly bizarre ideas will catch on as models become available for introducing digital classrooms on a large scale, saving communities millions of dollars that can be used elsewhere. The devil is in the details; test companies will need to come up with assessments that keep us all on the standards bandwagon, at least in the short run. However, the world will become aware of the children, who are now engaged learners, graduating with 21st century skills all with a smile on their faces—all of their faces.
So what does this have to do with grant writing? Enormous amounts of planning will need to take place to make these shifts as seamless as possible: project grants for negotiating with unions, planning grants for integrating distance learning into classrooms, grants for working with universities and teacher education programs to leverage the skills of teachers we have now so they can make the shift without becoming irrelevant, etc.
If you work in a reasonably forward thinking community, you can become a star agent of change. If you get ahead of these emerging technologies, your district can shine above the rest as pioneers in an exciting new educational reality. I've provided a short list of sites below to help you wrap your head around the possibilities. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation bears watching as they adjust to these changes too.
Truth: many public schools are ill disciplined and scary. Almost half of new teachers find other work within five years, and when instructors are leaving an environment you can't expect parents to stand by and watch. There will be enormous political pressure to "get the job done" once the means become available.
You can say I've lost my mind, but visit some of the sites below to get a glimpse of the future.
1 The Mobile Wave, Michael Saylor, Vanguard Press, Perseus Group, Philadelphia, PA, p. 180.
Let me know your stories, I'd love to share them with everyone.
Current Grant Opportunities
Ship Grants from the National Art Education Foundation (NAEF) - The National Art Education Foundation invites proposals for scholarships that promote NAEA’s efforts to initiate and encourage the understanding and implementation of the goals for student learning outlined in the National Visual Arts Standards. Funds are awarded to selected art educator’s whose proposals seek art equipment and/or instructional curriculum resources used to focus on student learning specifically related to the National Visual Arts Standards.
States: All States
Average Amount: $500.00
Address: 1806 Robert Fulton Drive, Ste 300, Reston, VA 20191
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Higher Education
Program Areas: Arts
Project Orange Thumb from the Fiskars Corporation - This program provides tools, materials, and other support to help communities reach their goals for neighborhood beautification, community collaboration, horticulture education, and healthy, sustainable food sources.
States: All States
Average Amount: $50,000.00
Total Amount: $3,500.00
Website: Fiskars Corporation
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Other
Program Areas: After-School, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, General Education, Science/Environmental