Killing online learning with kindness
Over the past few months, crusading Idaho state supe Tom Luna has shepherded a flock of forward-thinking and cost-saving reforms—including adoption of merit pay and a rollback of tenure and collective-bargaining rights. Yet amid Luna’s bold reforms hides one black sheep. If legislators agree in January, Idaho will become the first state to mandate that all high schoolers take at least two courses online. (Currently, Michigan and Alabama require students to each take one online course.)
Further, one of these classes must be “asynchronous”—think more “correspondence course” and less “virtual classroom.” Gadfly is a firm believer in the potential of digital learning to expand the reach of fantastic teachers, to individualize instruction, and to allow for more choice in public education. But the goal should be to expand access to digital learning, not to require kids to engage in it against their will. Supporters of such mandates often claim that learning how to take an online course is itself a critical skill to build. But if the courses are well-designed (like, say, your iPhone), mastering the experience should be a no-brainer. Luna might want to put the shears to this particular idea.
Category: Digital Learning
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