Is Silicon Valley Missing Out on Online Education? Is Silicon Valley Missing Out on Online Education?
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Is Silicon Valley Missing Out on Online Education?

by Nikhil Swaminathan

May 27, 2010
We can attribute nearly everything we love about the internet—from Google to Facebook to iPhones—to the geeks who either originate or flock to Silicon Valley to make their fortunes. But, a recent post on the Valley-based blog TechCrunch notes that there's one corner of the internet that the United States' premier code-monkeys haven't colonized: online education.

With the exception of private educational enterprises the United States has barely drawn on the online ed chalkboard. Instead, the piece notes the blossoming of efforts based in India, South Africa, Brazil, and Israel that are looking to bring education (from vocational skills to ESL) to desktops, laptops, and mobile phones (the laptops of the developing world).

But, why aren't U.S.-based internet entrepreneurs getting in on the action?
The Valley’s lack of interest is partially because, comparatively, we don’t really have an education problem in the United States. Yes, it could be better, but compared to other countries, our educational system teaches people how to think instead of just how to memorize, and most everyone has access to some level of education—including, frequently, higher education. (What they chose to do with that access is another matter.) We do have some real problems when it comes to education, but let’s be honest—they are first world problems. If you are reading this and getting outraged, you haven’t traveled enough. Our education system is the envy of a lot of the world.
I'm not sure that's true of our primary and secondary education systems, though our higher education institutions are unparalleled. Also, it seems as though there are many elementary schools and high schools in the United States, as well as after-school programs, such as School of One, which try to incorporate technology into their curriculums, using Internet-based learning suites. Certainly some company, perhaps U.S.-based, is making money off of those applications, right?

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Is Silicon Valley Missing Out on Online Education?