Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:46am
The education gap facing the nation's work force is evident in the numbers. Most new jobs will require more than a high school education, yet fewer than half of Americans under 30 have a postsecondary degree of any kind.
Recent state budget cuts, education experts agree, promise to make closing that gap even more difficult. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and four nonprofit education organizations are beginning an ambitious initiative to address that challenge by accelerating the development and use of online learning tools. An initial $20 million round of money, from the Gates Foundation, will be for postsecondary online courses, particularly ones tailored for community colleges and low-income young people. Another round of grants, for high school programs, is scheduled for next year. Just how effective technology can be in improving education -- by making students more effective, more engaged learners -- is a subject of debate.