Every school needs to ask itself a core question:
“What do we offer our students that cannot be replicated in an online experience?”
The answer to that question should become the basis of a school’s mission statement. Technology’s ability to overcome constraints of space and time should force institutions that exist within time and space constraints to rethink what it is that makes their experience worthwhile. A school should be built on creating a wholly unique experience for it’s students, not just one that’s mandated by law.
The in-person experience is essential to a student’s development. Therefore, a school must develop a mission statement that emphasizes the way in which is capitalizes on that in-person experience. If a school is simply a content delivery system, it is sacrificing the biggest advantage it has over the online experience. The relationships faculty and staff develop with students and the manner in which they can leverage those relationships to guide their development both as learners and citizens is what makes a school an essential American institution. However, to put it frankly: for a wide variety of reasons, not nearly enough schools are focused on how they can create learning environments that allow for these relationships to bear fruit. Thus, more and more people are coming to believe that everything learned in school can be replicated online. Schools must restate their mission within the context of our digital world and work to adhere to that mission, or else they risk becoming rightly irrelevant.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: the success or failure of schools is dependent upon the manner in which they can demonstrating their value independent from the world of digital education. If your school can’t come up with a satisfactory answer to that question, then it shouldn’t be surprised when students, parents and community members start raising it as well.