The end of the American high school, as we know it, may be in sight.
That's what Clayton Christensen and Curt Johnson say in their new book, Disrupting Class. Christensen is a best-selling Harvard professor and a leading writer on the technological tranformation of business and culture. Johnson, who helped write the book, says half of all high school classes will likely be taught on line by 2019.
"If you look at the online field, its gone from a mere 4,000 students enrolled only six or seven years ago, to well over a million now and climbing at a pretty steep curve."
Johnson is a former head of the Twin Cities based Citizens League. He was also among the thinkers who helped usher in Minnesota's charter school revolution.
"There is no disputing among scholars that this substitution curve is an accurate predictor of some disruption," Johnson says. "And that tells you within a decade, using technology as a platform and having students have access to a customized learning opportunity through online education is going to be the dominant model."
Christensen and Johnson base that prediction on changes that have happened already.
They cite the disruptions begun by Sony's first portable transistor radios in 1957 and the Apple II computer in 1977. Both started as little more than toys. But they eventually swept away industry standards like vacuum tube radios and so-called "minicomputers."
They also transformed culture. Apple put computers within easy reach and Sony made music portable.
Some people think that kind of change is happening in education right now.
It's already arrived in Fergus Falls, at Kristee Lee Ringquist's house.
"Being online has actually made me more self-motivated. It has shown me a lot of strengths and weaknesses that I have, and things that I need to work harder on," she says.
Kristee will be going to high school online again this fall, with iQ Academy, a new online school based in Fergus Falls.
In the past, online education focused on students in niche markets that traditional schools couldn't reach, like kids who need to catch up on credits, students with health problems or home schoolers.
But that isn't why Rinquist first tried online classes last year. She was just too busy for regular high school.
"I work for my uncle and I am basically an office assistant. And then I work at the Fergus Falls movie theater and the Fergus Falls Perkins (restaurant). And if I can get outside I am normally happy. I like to ride horse and I do race motocross all year long."
Online education isn't for everyone. Traditional teachers doubt that many kids have the self-discipline to work alone. And teachers say there's a lot more to school that just book work.
But online educators like iQ Academy, Insight Schools and the Minnesota Virtual Academy think the concern is an indication a transformation is coming.
"There is some resistance out there to it, just because its change," according to Lisa McClure, director of iQ academy in Minnesota.
"That whole disruptive idea is really where we're at, and its uncomfortable for traditional systems to deal with change on this level. But progress is being made and there are many, many educators in traditional schools that are very supportive of this."
They'll be the pioneers of a new kind of education, according to authors Christensen and Johnson. They and co-author Michael Horn say as many as a quarter of today's sixth graders will be learning online by the time they put on their caps and gowns.
Their new book about online education is titled Disrupting Class.