In the past decade, technology has revolutionized shopping, banking, media, and personal communication but the education industry has remained vastly untouched. There are two facets of education that if changed would improve education for the next generation. The accessibility of education and standardized testing is what has kept education from advancing and meeting the needs of today’s society. With today’s technology, quality education can become available to anyone who has an internet connection and standardized testing can be replaced with a method that does not put as much stress on students and better measures a student’s achievement.
Educational institutions have been slowly making information available on the internet over the past decade but that information is not optimized for the web nor is it very interactive. I am currently taking two classes online of which both require the student to be self-disciplined and essentially teach him/herself. Online education has been growing in the past decade, in 2010 “approximately 5.6 million students took at least one web-based class during the fall 2009 semester, which marked a 21% growth from the previous year” (Orgill, Jason, and Douglas Hervey). There is definitely a growing interest from students in education that is not only more accessible but also personalized. Personalized education could allow for students to learn what they want at their own pace regardless of their age or background, this would not online improve education in the United States but also allow people worldwide to get a good education regardless of their location. A recent video published by The Verge features Bill Gates talking about online learning and the ability to make the worlds best teachers available to anyone around the world and the idea that “as technology burns down the cost of quality education, more and more people will have access to the tools they need to take control of their future anywhere in the world”. Anyone who has enrolled in a public school knows a thing or two about school district boundaries. According to Waiting for Superman (2010) students usually, have no say in the public school they want to attend since they are designated a school based on their location. the problem with this is that there are many schools that have been labeled as dropout factories. The only other options for education are private and charter schools but many families cannot afford them. Accessibility to a good education through the internet would vastly improve the lives of families struggling with their local public school and costs would be very low or even non-existent if public school districts take the initiative to make their resources and courses available online. Some public school districts are already doing this but many of them are just making static offline resources available online instead adapting for the web and making them dynamic, engaging, and interactive for students.
There are currently two websites which show the potential of what accessible education would look like in the future, and Khan Academy. Both websites are changing the way people learn and making it easier for students to learn on their own time, edX (created by Harvard and MIT) even offers interactive portions in online classes that allow the student to understand concepts more easily. K12 is an online charter school which has had support from parents but “The National Education Association, the country’s main teachers union, takes a hard line on virtual charters such as K12” (Katherine Ward, Reason Magazine). The teachers union is one of the obstacles in the way of online education but to get them on board public school districts would need to begin competing with online charters such as K12 or websites like Khan Academy and edX. Current online offerings from public schools and Universities are, for the most part, very bland and boring. As a nation, we need to update teaching strategies and build infrastructures that can more effectively teach the upcoming generation, in doing so we can make education more accessible and teach not only those in the United States but also those in remote parts of Africa and even people living in the Himalayas.
One of the most frustrating aspects of high school for students is standardized testing. Standardized tests “fail to measure such important attributes as creativity and critical thinking skills” (Harris, Phillip, Joan Harris, and Bruce M. Smith. Standardized Testing). I was personally never a fan of getting questions that don’t require you to think and instead just require you to memorize a bunch of facts which are usually forgotten after you take the test. Not only is standardized testing stressful for students, but there have also been studies that support the fact that standardized tests have “reduced the scope and quality of course content, diminished the role of teachers, and distanced students from active learning” (Linda McNeil, ch.1). It can’t be argued that standardized tests do offer an objective view on what a student is understanding and isn’t but a students life and acceptance to University of choice should not heavily rely on tests like the SAT. Even high-ranking employees in the education sector have their doubts on standardized tests, in fact “only 6% of superintendents strongly agree that SAT and ACT scores are the best predictors of college success” (Busteed, Brandon. “GPA, SAT, ACT … RIP”). In the article “GPA, SAT, ACT … RIP”, Brandon Busteed mentions that “these tests should be part of a much more balanced scorecard that includes many other more important measures”. There is no reason to get rid of standardized testing, it just needs to be more dynamic and less standard since all students are not the same.
The first facet that needs to be fixed to improve education is to reform standardized testing to get students more engaged in learning and relieve the stress factors currently associated with standardized testing. Education has been the same for over a decade while nearly all other industries have adapted to make people’s lives easier by making use of the internet. Making education more accessible by optimizing it for the web would also make it more interactive, personalized, and would allow students to learn when they can and from wherever they please. Districting, travel times and tight schedules would be a thing of the past and many people’s lives would be improved.

Works Cited
Busteed, Brandon. “GPA, SAT, ACT…RIP.” The Huffington Post.
9  Sept. 2013. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.
Harris, Phillip, Joan Harris, and Bruce M. Smith. “Standardized Tests Do Not Effectively
Measure Student Achievement.” Standardized Testing. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2012. At Issue. Rpt. from “Chapter 3: The Tests Don’t Measure Achievement Adequately.” The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do. 2011. 33-45. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.
McNeil, Linda M. Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing.
New York: Routledge, 2000. Google Books. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.
Orgill, Jason, and Douglas Hervey. “Online Learning Programs Are Changing the Way Students
Learn.” What Is the Role of Technology in Education? Ed. Judeen Bartos. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. At Issue. Rpt. from “How Online Innovators Are Disrupting Education.” Harvard Business Review (4 Nov. 2011). Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.
Video, Verge. “Bill Gates: Can Online Classrooms Educate the Developing World?” The Verge.
Vox Media, 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 08 Mar. 2015.
Ward, Katherine M. “Teachers Unions vs. Online Education.” N.p., 20 July 2010.
Web. 08 Mar. 2015.
Waiting for Superman. Dir. Davis Guggenheim. Perf. Charles Adam and Jonathan Alter. Electric
Kinney Films, 2010. DVD.
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