POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
Yes, I'm sure they can, so long as there are good, responsive people at the other end of the cable.
I think the general public should very much welcome this development.
First, finally we have a potential competitor that can eventually knock the teachers' union off its perch. The union has abused the public for decades, always asking for more privileges, always offering students less, ands always defending the indefensible, including poor teachers.
Second, there are potentially immense savings to taxpayers here with the need for fewer buildings that are lighted, heated, and staffed and a reduction in the fleets of buses operating daily. This is genuinely “green” stuff.
Third, America has become, to a great extent, a de-centralized society, a suburban society. As sprawl continues, the costs of facilities and transportation rise greatly owing to a lack of economies of scale. Just as subways and other forms of costly transportation cannot be supported by suburban populations, so as population goes further and further out, quality schools become more costly per capita to support.
Fourth, because lessons may be done at any time, there are benefits to students who have a hard time adjusting to a fixed beginning time every morning. Lessons may also easily be repeated until mastered. At the other end of the cable, teachers too will benefit from this. Marking and setting tasks may be done at any time too. This will be especially attractive to part-timers.
Fifth, at least potentially, the average quality of teachers may improve. The Internet will attract many capable and interesting experts who would not find it easy to enter, or adjust to, the educational bureaucracy. Also, some of our genuinely talented teachers will be recording their lessons to be used by millions in future. And there will be some wonderful part-timers.
Sixth, the educational establishment as political creature will begin to decline.