Digital Learning

The Education Gadfly

?The prevailing sentiment that anyone can do the job of a teacher, or that anyone can direct teachers how to do their job, is ill-considered: Many have tried, and many have failed.'' *

-Christine Emmons, Associate research scientist and scholar at The Yale University School of Medicine's Child Study Center

"No Teacher Is an Island," Education Week

1.03 million

The amount of students at the K-12 level who took an online course in 2007-8

"More Pupils Are Learning Online, Fueling Debate on Quality," The New York Times

* This quote does not necessarily represent the views of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Categories: 

Peter has already covered Trip Gabriel's NYT piece on digital learning this morning (and done, as always, a mighty fine job). And his post, which draws attention to our collective?and long-standing?deprioritization of robust, challenging curricular content and how that has created a knowledge deficit, is interesting stuff. But, he gives Gabriel's portrayal of the digital-learning landscape far too much credit.

As Peter points out, Gabriel falls into the weeds?and never gets out.

See, there are variations in online learning, each with its own positives and pitfalls. And to conflate them all?from otherwise unavailable AP courses offered in rural areas to supplemental afterschool math-tutoring programs to remedial credit-recovery courses?is to seriously undermine one of the most promising new innovations in education.

And Gabriel should have known better.

His piece starts (and to its credit, ends) on the topic of online credit-recovery programs. He draws the reader in early with an anecdote, showing how easily Daterrius Hamilton is skating through English 3, a course he had failed twice before. Daterrius reads snippets of Jack London instead of opening any of the author's full volumes. To complete his written assignment, the high schooler copy-pastes text from London's Wikipedia page onto his screen, formats some, and submits.

Through this tale, Gabriel has me hooked. Credit-recovery programs, online or otherwise?though the numbers are mushrooming in the online arena, are too-often of dubious quality. And to question the legitimacy of an online course that teaches a struggling student Shakespeare in...

Categories: 

Will you get on or not?? This is the question posed by this morning's page one New York Times story by Trip Gabriel:? More Pupils Are Learning Online, Fueling Debate on Quality.? Gabriel says that some 200,000 kids now attend online schools fulltime and over a million take at least one online course, a nearly 50 percent increase in just three years.

The question of quality is, indeed, the issue that educators and policymakers should be focused on here. And Gabriel is off to a promising start with an anecdote about an online student who went to Wikipedia to answer a question about social Darwinism for an English class. ?He copied the language, spell-checked it and e-mailed it to his teacher,? reports Gabriel.

That kind of quality control challenge is only the tip of the iceberg. ?Gabriel leads his story describing this same student's study of Jack London, ?in a high school classroom packed with computers.? The kid scans a ?brief biography? of London and that's it:

But the curriculum did not require him, as it had generations of English students, to wade through a tattered copy of Call of the Wild or To Build a Fire.

Unfortunately, this is where Mr. Gabriel falls into the weeds ? and he never gets out. Rather, he falls in just after these promising anecdotes: curriculum is not mentioned again in the story.? In fact, I would bet Mr. Gabriel good money that generations of English students in thousands...

Categories: 

While having a very interesting conversation over at my post about The Digital Divide and the Knowledge Deficit (about the recent MacArthur sponsored conference at Hechinger), I noticed a fascinating story by Sharon Begley at Newsweek called ?I can't think!? that deserves special mention.? There seems to be new evidence to suggest that information overload is just that ? and the bombardment harms our decision-making faculties. Writes Begley:

The research should give pause to anyone addicted to incoming texts and tweets. The booming science of decision making has shown that more information can lead to objectively poorer choices, and to choices that people come to regret. It has shown that an unconscious system guides many of our decisions, and that it can be sidelined by too much information. And it has shown that decisions requiring creativity benefit from letting the problem incubate below the level of awareness?something that becomes ever-more difficult when information never stops arriving.

Decision science, as the new field is called, would seem to raise many questions for educators, since the emphasis on "critical thinking" and "self-expression" has a great deal to do with the interchange between information and decision-making.? "[D]ecision science," writes Begley, "has shown that people faced with a plethora of choices are apt to make no decision at all."??And the alert for ciritical-thinking and self-expression adherents is this:? "One of the greatest surprises in decision science is the discovery that some of our best decisions are made through unconscious processes."?

...

Categories: 

Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

Opinion + Analysis: 
Reviews: 
Gadfly Studios: 

Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

Opinion + Analysis: 
Reviews: 
Gadfly Studios: 

Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

Opinion + Analysis: 
Reviews: 
Gadfly Studios: 

Ohio Education Gadfly Biweekly

Opinion + Analysis: 
Reviews: 
Gadfly Studios: 
In this policy brief, Fordham gives its advice to Governor-elect Kasich and the incoming leaders of the Ohio House and Senate as it relates to the future of K-12 education policy in the Buckeye State.
In this volume, a diverse group of experts—scholars, educators, journalists, and entrepreneurs—offer wisdom and advice on how schools and districts can cut costs, eliminate inefficient spending, and better manage their funds in order to free up resources to drive school reform.

Pages