The Economist provides an excellent primer for those new to eLearning

The Economist is among my favorite publications, partially because it is so often insightful, well-written, and imbued with English humor, and partially because its views(fiscally conservative, socially liberal or liberalterian) match my own. I find it especially valuable in providing a balanced view on those topics on which I have a hard time maintaining objectivity because I am close to them. So it was with particular interest that I read two recent Economist articles discussing technology in education in the United States.

The articles provide an excellent primer for anyone who is not yet very familiar with the issues in online and blended learning. In particular, the articles touch on different types of online and blended learning, and discuss why the authors believe that technology will (this time) truly transform education, after many false starts with previous technologies. In this regard the articles build on the work of the Christensen Institute.

The articles aren’t perfect; in particular they are disproportionately based on the role of the private sector, with not quite enough focus on the public schools (including charter schools) that are playing such an important role. Public schools are mentioned, and perhaps it’s to be expected that a publication like The Economist would focus heavily on the private sector. Still, the number of mentions of some companies seem to be more based on The Economist’s view of the potential of large companies to help transform education than on what some of those companies have already accomplished.

Despite these issues, the articles are an excellent primer, and if you’re looking for a respected but non-traditional (for education) article for someone you may be trying to educate or convince, they are a good start.