As I wrote a few years ago, the future for education is neither a fully virtual nor a parallel system, but an integrated one. The overwhelming majority of students will continue to attend physical schools. However, increasing numbers of students will also take courses or parts of courses online, moving back and forth seamlessly between the traditional and virtual—just as they do in every other aspect of their lives.
To see what this emerging future looks like, I recommend the Innosight Institute’s new brief describing the “blending” of online and traditional instruction. Pushing back against fears that online learning will replace teachers and leave classrooms empty, the piece flatly states that “full time virtual schooling will not substitute for mainstream schooling.” Instead, what they describe is much more interesting: a rapidly emerging sector with a wide variety of schools implementing at least six different models — all attempting to find the right combination of high tech and high touch teaching.