There's a glimmer of education's future in Scotland, and it's called Glow. I spent four days in Glasgow last fall looking at that country's $100 million investment in educational technology, and I came away impressed with what ought to be possible in Southern California.
I watched biology teacher Jaye Richards explain how she had created a lesson to monitor water quality in the Yangtze River, the Don River in Sheffield and the Gulf of Mexico. In itself, that's not remarkable; lots of enterprising teachers can use the Internet to set up learning experiences for their students. But because of Glow, Richards' lesson can be clearly linked to the national curriculum and shared with the other 30,000 teachers in the country.
Behind Glow's technology is an instinct for collaboration backed up by public policy. The country is relying on teachers rather than textbook publishers to develop and field test the lessons that fulfill the lofty goals of their national curriculum. And Scotland understands that working together to solve difficult problems is a key 21st Century skill for students. Thus, Glow Groups are not just MySpace pages, but virtual spaces where 14-year -olds learn to work like scientists.
If this intrigues you, take a look. Several good examples are posted on the Glow website.
Scotland has about 700,000 students, about the same number that attend Los Angeles Unified. The question is: Why isn't this possible here?