This is a guest post by Tom Vander Ark that was originally posted on EdReformer.
For the hundred experts that contributed to Digital Learning Now this was the thorniest issue.? To a person they expressed interest in quality but wrestled with limitations and barriers of input driven approaches common to education.? The final report points to outcome oriented approaches but doesn't provide much detail.
Hess makes a solid contribution by outlining input-oriented, outcome-driven and market-based approaches to promoting quality.? He makes clear the shortcomings of applying input controls to digital learning.?? Teacher certification strategies don't seem to add much value and attempts to certify teachers in online and blended learning strategies would remain hopelessly out of date with best practice.? ?Applying a textbook review processes to dynamic and adaptive digital content libraries would damper innovation, limit access and do little to assure quality.
Hess is more hopeful about outcome-driven approaches.? But, as?Cisco's John Behrens told me Friday, we're still operating from a data poverty mindset.? I think John would find the outcome section of the paper an example of attempting to use old testing strategies to measure new learning experiences.? ?An example of a data poverty mindset is relying
Today we've published the first of six papers, commissioned by the Fordham Institute, on the topic of digital learning/virtual schooling. The rest of the papers ? each exploring a different angle of this issue ? are set to be released on a rolling basis later this year. In this first paper, Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute explores the challenges of quality control.
As Hess notes, ?one of the great advantages of online learning is that it makes 'unbundling' school provision possible?that is, it allows children to be served by providers from almost anywhere, in new and more customized ways.? But taking advantage of all the opportunities online learning offers means that there is no longer one conventional 'school' to hold accountable. Instead, students in a given building or district may be taking courses (or just sections of courses) from a variety of providers, each with varying approaches to technology, instruction, mastery, and so forth?.Finding ways to define, monitor, and police quality in this brave new world is one of the central challenges in realizing the potential of digital learning.?
Hess goes on to present an interesting and thought-provoking paper! Click here to learn more.
You can do a lot of things with computers nowadays: Do your homework, balance the budget, unlock the secrets of high-performing charters, even battle school districts. If only computers could help us discover cheating, pass funding bills, or make us environmentally literate.
-Joshua Pierson, Fordham Intern
In this week's Atlantic, Gagan Biyani, cofounder of Udemy (a web start-up that provides a platform for anyone in the world to build their own online course with video, virtual-classroom sessions, etc.), said:
The price of college is going to fall, and the Internet is going to cause that fall. The rest of it is really difficult to figure out.
Forget that Biyani, or the rest of the article for that matter, is talking about higher education. The quote could just as easily apply to K-12 schooling in the States. The price of educating our youth is going to fall (in terms of per-pupil outlays, not the cost a family incurs to educate their child, as is the case in higher ed).? And the internet (I'm thinking of that term broadly and rather amorphously here to mean everything from broadband to wifi to 4G to superwifi) is going to catalyze that shift.
It all sounds great. And then Biyani hits you with the brick: ?The rest of it is really difficult to figure out.? If this were a grand game of Clue, we'd be missing the murder weapon. It was the Internet, in the classroom, with the? candlestick? (No, that can't be right?)
Along with Biyani's prophesy, though, the Atlantic article hints at one way to use technology to actually disrupt education's stagnant knowledge-delivery model. Beginning with MIT and its OpenCourseWare project, many elite colleges have started making lectures, slides, tests, and discussion-section
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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