Collins and Halverson raise many legitimate points in this book, but there are also some points of contention that remain unresolved. Although this book proposes few definite answers, it opens up lively discussion for rethinking education in the information age, and it is an essential read for future educators because it outlines very convincingly that schools are following an outdated model and should be reformed. However, the solutions that Collins and Halverson propose will remain points of contention for time to come, and many people will remain skeptical.
This book does an excellent job of outlining the problem in an easy-to-understand way: In short, the school system as we know it was formed during the Industrial Revolution, and it is designed to efficiently transmit information from the teacher to the students in large numbers. It is clear that the Industrial Age is over, and we are now well into the Information Age, and we see youth becoming a lot more involved in exchanging information and knowledge over the web than before. Consequently, we are finding that students are learning much more in these informal environments because they are voluntarily engaging in information which they find interesting, so Collins and Halverson propose that education should become less institutionalized and more personalized.
Essentially, Collins and Halverson propose that technology allows personalized instruction to large numbers of students, and education should look more like home-schooling or apprenticeship, in which students decide the terms and conditions of their learning rather than following a prescribed route. This will promote a higher degree of specialization, and "just-in-case" learning would no longer be relevant. Because students would be focusing on what interests them, they would be more motivated to learn, but this model leaves many future educators uneasy.
However, this book also does a fair job of outlining what may be lost from that proposed model of education, but there are many possible losses that Collins and Halverson did not address or resolve. Some future educators ponder about what would happen to the generalists if this model of personalized online instruction takes place, but it is not likely that generalists would disappear, and in world with such good communication, there would not really be a need for them. Also, when it comes to educating students about prejudice, tolerence, and social justice, schools have been the most effective means because they provide a common space for a diversity of students to interact, but the book does not address this. And finally, this book mentions nothing about physical education. Schools are typically an excellent institution for students to get involved with physical activity and sports, and this book does not address it at all. Although I would not agree entirely with the proposed solutions, I believe this book is an overall worthwhile read that should be taken with a grain of salt.
One significant qualm that I have with this book is that I find it to be polarizing: It offers perspectives from Technology Enthusiasts and Skeptics without offering a middleground or even explain why or if these two sides are incompatible. The authors present both sides fairly, but it is pretty clear which sides the authors are on. Although these authors are highly knowledgeable and offer a lot of valuable insight, I treat this polarization only as an organizational tool that helps me read and digest information, so I take nothing at face value.
Nonetheless, I would recommend this to any serious educator or future educator because the insights provocative and valuable, but this book should not be read passively like a novel. Anybody who reads this should be prepared to critique this book very carefully and open up lively discussions about rethinking education.