This is great for developers, because a developer gets instant recognition. I can create an app and it’s instantly available for everyone to see and download. It makes distribution a whole lot easier.

This is such a smart way to distribute software that even computer operating systems are starting to catch onto the idea. Apple released the Mac App Store for their Mac computers, and different distributions of Linux have had tastes of this for years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar pop up on Windows soon.  

Apps are little mini programs for phones. The Apple App Store and Google’s Android Market have loads and loads of educational apps, many of which are totally free! This is a great place to look for tools to aid you in your homeschool. Educational apps are really fun since they’re displayed on a phone or tablet, and they’re also super portable. Tools like these allow education to be “on the go”—no more hauling textbooks around. If you get a chance, look up some math apps or geography quiz apps or whatever you have in mind. There are many interactive educational apps out there.

So Now What?

All of these sites and services are great, but so what? The way we learn and teach is evolving, and education is now available everywhere. The familiar structured classroom environment isn’t always the best choice for optimal learning, as it may have been in the past. Technology is changing the way society can educate. We can be more self-taught, more self-guided, and less dependent on academic super-giants like colleges. I’m not saying that standard, traditional education and college are obsolete or a bad idea—not at all. I’m saying that they’re no longer the only option.

The new way is the self-taught way. It’s a self-directed way with the guidance of a teacher. Today there’s no reason to educate kids in the same old-fashioned way (i.e., teacher-to-student lecture for eight hours a day). Just about anything that could be made into a lesson already has been . . . and is online somewhere.

We live in a fast-paced society. Any industry or company the student is interested in pursuing will have to stay competitive. Education should prepare us for that.

Here’s what it boils down to: We should know how to teach ourselves how to do what we want to do. That may be hard to say ten times fast, but here’s an example of what I mean by that. One of my computer science professors gave us very hard tests, but he said something interesting during our mid-term. He said: “If you get stumped on any of these questions, I want you to turn your computer on and use the Internet to find the answer. That’s right; Google it.” We all sort of looked at each other and felt weird that the teacher was asking us to “cheat.” He said: “Seriously, the point in college is to prepare you for the real world—to prepare you to make a contribution to the industry you’ll be going into. That’s the goal here. When, in any type of job, will you not have access to computers and the Internet!? Never. Especially within the next few decades, the Internet is going to continue to grow and be accessible everywhere! You’ll always have the Internet at your disposal, so learn to use it.” 

My professor continued: “If you learn how to search and find your answers, that’s almost as valuable as memorizing pages and pages’ worth of data. Go ahead: use the Internet. It better not take you more than thirty minutes to find your answers and finish this test, but use it.”

This made a lot of sense to me, and I remember doing well on the test and in that class. The point is obvious: in “the real world,” you’ll never be left to memorize countless amounts of data, but you’ll always have resources at your disposal. Knowing how to find answers fast is what any company is really looking for and what every career will require. That’s the goal he was talking about. That’s how education should be.