Online shopping and schooling

When I got to the cash at Michaels Craft Store to pay for a new doll bed for my niece, the clerk asked if I wanted to be on their email list.  I replied no, a little too quickly and a lot too self-righteously.  I hate that stuff.

Then she told me the price of the bed, and it was a good 50% cheaper than the ticket price.  Assuming she made an error, I tried to correct her.

“Well, if you were on the email list, you would get a 50% off coupon. But I gave the discount to you anyway.”

Now I felt guilty.  I thanked her profusely, hoping she didn’t catch my earlier smugness.

I really dislike the whole email and online shopping world, but I am a sucker for a good deal.  So do I continue to ride my high horse and refuse to enter the online shopping world?

As our schools wrestle with the future of online education, I think we face a similar dilemma.  We know that our current model of small classroom size and fancy facilities is expensive and that online learning is good for kids who need to learn how to access good information and be prepared for an increasingly digital world.  But how do you ensure deep learning from cold technology?  And what will the new learning model look like?  Can schools afford to not ask these questions?

I wish I had an answer.  (So stop reading this blog here if you think there is a simple solution.)  But there are two things I know for sure:

  1. We need to invest in exploring how to embed technology with the best of what is happening in the best classrooms today.  No excuses. We need minds focusing on what the future of education will look like.  CAIS is prepared to take a lead in this process.  Stay tuned for our strategic plan.  Our community will be asked to contribute to a survey in the new year.
  2. We need to continue to do what we do well and be better than ever.  I believe our schools need to invest in relationships with our current students and families.  At the TABS conference last week, I heard time and again the need to personalize our communications.  What is our proactive strategy to challenge and support every student in our schools?   And how does that in turn become a strategic retention program?

The future for education will, of course, lie in a blend of high technology and high personal touch. Just as I was motivated to be open to online shopping by a kind clerk who looked at me, took pity, and gave me a break, I believe our students will also need to see the whites of the eyes of their teachers and trust them to guide and inspire them towards fulfilling and purposeful lives.

The two-pronged approach will ensure our CAIS schools remain leaders in shaping the future of education.