Should schools walk or run into the digital era?

computer (Medium)In every district, in every school, in every grade, there is that great teacher who all parents want for their children. So, parents cross their fingers that their child is among the lucky ones to end up on that teacher’s roster.

What if that terrific teacher could reach two, three or even five times as many students?

That is one of the promises of online learning, said Bryan Hassel, co-director of Public Impact and a speaker at today’s webcasted Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s panel on Education Reform for a Digital Era.

Hassel said that only about 25 percent of classes have one of these top-tier teachers at a given time. That means the other 75 percent don’t.

Education can enlarge the classroom of the teachers achieving the best results with their students and pay them more for doing so by multiplying their reach through technology, said Hassel.

Relieve those great teachers of non-instructional tasks and use video to reach more students and smart software to personalize instruction.

While the panelists disagreed on when and how digital learning should be introduced into schools, all agreed that online education represents the future.

“There is a lot of hope and a lot of hype. We have yet to see too many programs in practice live up to their promise,’’ said the moderator Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute. “To get it right, we need a much more fundamental and compelling school reform agenda than we’ve got today.”

Today, there is one computer for every three students across all k-12 schools. There is connectivity. There is hardware. Yet, of 55 million students total, it’s estimated that fewer than a million have taken an online course.

Most schools function like they always have — a single teacher overseeing a classroom with, on average, 23 students. That’s in contrast with every other industry in the country where technology plays a larger and larger role in how work is done.

“Technology is inevitable,” said John Chubb, distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a founder of EdisonLearning. “We can’t put our fingers in the dikes and stop technology from coming.”

The role of skeptic on the panel was assigned to Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein, author of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future; Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30.”

Bauerlein outlined several obstacles that caused initiatives including statewide laptop programs to stumble, such as 50-year-old teachers who didn’t get on board or a lack of schoolwide coordination.

But the toughest challenges come from students who regard technologies as social tools and resist their conversion to academic learning tools. “These tools have intense social meaning for them. They are largely mediums of peer pressures, peer absorption, peer fixation and peer topics  — coming into their lives 24 hours a day,” he said.

“Try to control that classroom with 25 laptops open and keep students from drifting into social habits,’’ Bauerlein said.

If technology became as integral to the academic lives of students as it has to their social lives, Chubb said, “This imbalance that clearly exists now would begin to change. There is not the option of keeping technology out. The challenge for educators is how to make technology work for schools. Or schools will become, in the eyes of students, irrelevant.”

Now, teachers confront classrooms with a wide range of abilities, students struggling to read even simple books and others breezing through “The Hunger Games” series. “Digital learning allows students to learn at their own level…to customize instruction,” Chubb said.

Under rigid rules on teacher pay and class size, Hassel said there aren’t strong incentives now for teachers to embrace technology or become involved in shaping it. “There is no way they can use it to leverage their time. But if they can use technology in time-saving ways and take on more students and earn more, they will become active shoppers and become a driver of quality.”

That research suggests digital learning is not being done very well yet doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved, Chubb said.

“If we wait for definitive evidence that this new model works better than the old model, we will never get there,” said Chubb.

“What we want is to give educators, principals, school districts and charter school heads more flexibility and more incentive to try to figure out how to adopt technology. This is not something policy makers will figure out. Educators will figure out.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

100 comments Add your comment

Atlanta Mom

April 19th, 2012
8:13 pm

“If we wait for definitive evidence that this new model works better than the old model, we will never get there,” said Chubb.”
One more experiment on our children. What’s wrong with waiting for definitive evidence?

Hillbilly D

April 19th, 2012
8:20 pm

Rather than reaching only 25 students a year, what if that terrific teacher could reach 200 or 250?

That goes against the argument for smaller class sizes. You can’t have it both ways.

Atlanta Media Guy

April 19th, 2012
8:32 pm

In DeKalb we ran into the digital era and never looked back, wasting millions of dollars. We all know who ran MIS during the glory days of money growing on trees. All that money on technology and all we got were worse scores and a division of DCSD that hired many friends and family.

I think moving into the digital era would be good for students, but we need to make sure we’re not throwing good money away, like we have in DeKalb for years. Plus, what good is new technology if the a system doesn’t train and hire people who know how to install/operate/update it?

Mikey D

April 19th, 2012
8:38 pm

Part of what makes great teachers great is embedded in their interpersonal skills and the way they interact with their students and make them feel special and important. It’s doubtful that these intangibles would translate through a video being broadcast through a projector. Online learning would probably be a great thing for those students who are instinsically motivated to learn, but what about the students who have no desire to learn or improve themselves under the current system. Do you really think they’re going to thrive with less teacher interaction?

I hope that this push for online learning isn’t going to be the legislature’s newest “silver bullet” that will magically cure the ills of public education. Until we get some true leaders who recognize that there are no simple solutions, from the local level all the way to the feds, then true improvement will continue to elude us. Our “leaders” at all levels are a bad joke.

Attentive Parent

April 19th, 2012
8:46 pm

So we have the accreditors, SACS, insisting schools should not be lecturing in their Quality Standards. We have Fulton paying big bucks to Cambridge Education for so-called Quality Reviews where the report says “the teachers are teaching and the children are learning and this has to stop”. Nice thing to tell the teachers with exams coming up.

But then when it’s time to push visual, I mean digital learning, which most kids will process much like TV, all of a sudden we use the great lecturer model to sell it. Heard Bob Wise say this and I wondered if the right hand knew what the rest of the ed pitch was saying.

Digital learning is a tool and important for kids who have a lack of familiarity.

But mostly it’s the Crony Capitalism boondoggle of all time to the tech companies. They get to be the preferred govt vendor for all that E-SPLOST money. Hundreds of millions of your dollars taxpayers.

And nobody took you out for a nice dinner to say thanks for the contract.

Ron F.

April 19th, 2012
8:53 pm

I’ve seen how technology definitely gets kids engaged and interested. It takes a lot of planning and careful supervision, but I think with time kids will come to see the technology as more than a social diversion. They’ll have to as the pace of technology growth increases. It’s like any tool we have in education- it’s all in how you use it. Interactive lessons with ipads within a classroom,or something like that, could be very engaging, but kids still need some time with a good old book in their hands. The downside is the money, and technology has lots of costs connected to it. It seems like it could become another money drain in an already cash-strapped system! I don’t think the idea of distance learning for kids under 18 is the way to go. Talk about boring!

Ron F.

April 19th, 2012
8:57 pm

I say walk into it….very, very carefully. Of course, somebody smelling money and looking for a way to make themselves look good will sell an idea to a bunch of unsuspecting, gullible decision makers who have no idea what a classroom looks like, let alone how to teach. We’ll get a crash course and be expected to instantly implement said wonder program, and then the cash will run out, the technology will need updating or repair, or half the sites will crash…it’s never as easy as they say!


April 19th, 2012
8:59 pm

Mikey D is correct – part of it is the interaction. You can teach the exact same content to 5 classes a day, and you can try to do it exactly the same way, but it’s not going to be the same twice in a row because the classes are different, and even the interpersonal dynamics with the students are different.

One class will understand the content with the first example, and start asking advanced questions you didn’t think you’d get to cover until tomorrow, but that great teacher will see that little Johnny in the back is still confused, and make sure to add something to ensure that he understands, too.

The next class may need several examples, and your jokes might fall flat in that class too.

Does Hassell suggest taping the lecture so that 250+ students can watch it at once? Will this be a podcast, or will this be a live webcast allowing questions and answers? How many questions can one teacher answer at once?


April 19th, 2012
9:03 pm

Study the “one laptop per child” initiatives – a lot of those have failed because money wasn’t allotted to repair, replace or update the technology, or everyone couldn’t do the project because Jane’s laptop was in for repairs and Timmy left his at home. In some cases, the parents sold the laptops & reported them stolen, or the students just didn’t take good care of them and they broke.

And then there were the problems with students browsing the web or IMing each other instead of doing the lesson…


April 19th, 2012
9:10 pm

“Today, teachers enter classrooms with students far below grade level, on class level and hungry for acceleration.”

WHAT does this even mean??? Hope technology wasn’t involved in composing this sentence. If so, we’re all doomed…


April 19th, 2012
9:10 pm

It seems to me that Apple’s “Classrooms of Tomorrow” digital education projects date back to the 1980s…and I know that Larry Cuban published “Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom” over a decade ago.


April 19th, 2012
9:21 pm

I am the high school teacher parents want for their kids. I am successful because I build relationships with all my students. I get to know them, their dreams, their limitations, and their strengths. I encourage them while I help them begin to figure out who they are. I find strategies to help them overcome their deficits. I can monitor each child’s progress.

This cannot be duplicated nor broadcast. Education cannot be mass produced.

You would never attempt to replicate the work of great surgeons, lawyers or psychologists in such a manner.

The fact that those who make decisions about public education are even considering such an idea demonstrates their failure to grasp the most fundamental elements of how classrooms work.

Children are not lumps of clay, uniform in composition, that can be massed produced.

Old timer

April 19th, 2012
9:24 pm

I say walk..many schools and plans are not good.


April 19th, 2012
9:48 pm

Mikey, SciTch, and Tom have pointed it out–great teachers MAKE A CONNECTION WITH THEIR STUDENTS.

Remember the experiment with the baby monkeys that were not held or stroked? Or the babies from Russian orphanages? They ended up stunted physically, and acting like they were mentally retarded. So many of our children are like those orphans. The folks at school are the main ones who give them smiles, pleasant words, and encouragement each day (not to mention models of correct interpersonal behavior).

Of course “some people” will make a lot of money. And some legislators will pat themselves on the back for “saving” money in this way. The problem is, the kids need more.

I know: Since charter schools are so great, let’s just video those teachers and let the kids in the “regular” schools watch them!


April 19th, 2012
10:41 pm

Yes, schools should RUN into the bright parts of educational technology, WALK into the shaded areas to understand what is there & how it can be useful, while STAYING AWAY from the dark crevices.

RUN–Use technology that they can assimilate with little training. Example: Teachers can update HS activities using skills they probably developed outside the classroom. Using text or email messages to send clues for a real or virtual scavenger hunt to students. Thelearning is similar w/o technology, but the new tools allow them to do old things in new ways w/o much need for training.

WALK–Into useful, cost effective ideas that will change the way you do things where the adjustments are gradual, but growing. Example–Trade out text books for ereaders in HS & MS. The retail price of a wifi enabled ereader (Kindle/Nook) is close to the price of one high end lost book. Let’s trade out of hardcopy book expense and invest that money in letting everyone use a Nook (or equivalent.) The school systems should get some discount on the license rate over the book cost. You don’t really lose or damage licenses. They hold up to wear & tear better than the books. If the student loses/breaks the device, they have to pay for it the same as they would with a book. You pay for the techies that manage the licenses with the cost savings of cutting back on book warehousing, distribution & related staff.

On the upside, less wear & tear on the students. Less likely that the book gets lost as they only have to keep up with one thing. Less likley to have trouble from other students because they have the same device that you do. Teachers can teach about the same way relative to the books, BUT the interested, can use the wifi to enhance lessons as everyone potentially has a link to school approved sites to research & learn as we go.

Distance learning fits here. It is a good option for special circumstances. It is not the right answer in all cases. Good teacher in the classroom beats, good teacher covering 200 students from remote location. However, good teach for unique class remotely beats no unique class.

STAY AWAY from things that no one really understands that would require major investments in training for the teachers to understand how to use it. There are not that many staff development hours available these days. Taking a year to ramp up on a new technology is probably a bad idea if the start up costs are much above zero.

Embrace the easy wins. Leave the hard tech to real tech classes like computer science. Technology for educators should be like sauces & spices for chefs. Knowing how to use a few well can take you much farther than knowing very little about all of the options.

Tech Prof

April 19th, 2012
10:57 pm

I teach all online, all the time. I do not lecture. I interact frequently with my students via email and class discussions. I build a good relationship with some students. I create challenging, authentic assignments that take the students a long time to complete. Some assignments involve group collaboration and some are done individually. I spend a lot of time grading and providing individual feedback. I cannot do my classes this way with hundreds of students enrolled in them. Online instruction can be done well, but not with hundreds of students per class. The lecture method is not really that good in a face-to-face class. Why would we want to duplicate it in an online environment?

Guide on the Side? Sage on the Stage?

April 19th, 2012
11:19 pm

I’m not anti-technology at all – I use it frequently with my students – I am lucky enough to have some class computers and a smart board – we use online tutoring, sites like Khan Academy, and have a class wiki (I’m currently working on implementing aspects of a flipped class, for those familiar with that).

That being said, this video idea sounds more like simple lecturing – the “Sage on the Stage” rather than any kind of meaningful engagement – the “Guide on the Side.” It immediately tells me that this person proposing likely hasn’t been in an elementary or middle school classroom in a long time…maybe a HS AP class would be successful with this model, but I don’t know.

Before the haters start calling me a union shill who doesn’t want meaningful reform (LOL on that – don’t even belong to anything), I’m not saying there isn’t a place for good video instruction. The flipped class is somewhat of a hybrid model, and great teachers making the videos would be fabulous. However, this is no magic bullet. It’s not.

William Casey

April 20th, 2012
1:16 am

ScienceTeacher671 has pointed out most of the problems related to technology in schools.The magic of learning is in that face-to-face “ah-ha” moment. I think that hi-tech would be most useful for review. I don’t really trust schools to manage investment in technology wisely.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

April 20th, 2012
3:14 am



Well-thought and -stated.

Well worth reading, thinking about and acting upon.

Please send your piece to John Barge at the GA Department of Education.

Online Teacher

April 20th, 2012
5:44 am

I have taught online and for the vast majority of students, it is not a good idea.

Two years ago, the French teacher at my local HS retired, forcing a good number of students who needed French II into Georgia Virtual School.

Out of 30, two (2) passed the course – with a 70. Why?

There is real accountability on the part of the student. They are expected to do assignments, turn them in – on time and if not, are docked points. None of the students would turn in their work on time, or bother to do it. Couple this to the fact the course was taught the way the standards dictate it should be taught and you have recipe for failure.

Oh, and since there is not a principal breathing down the necks of the teachers to pass everyone because of AYP and they answer to the State DoE, the teachers can and do teach.

Also, another student was taking an advanced math course, a straight A student, who squeeked a 70 out of a course for the same reason – he would not turn in work due on Monday until Friday and could not understand why he would only get 50% credit. All of his other teachers would give him credit for his work, why not the virtual ones?

So yes, push kids to onliine work, give them vouchers for online schools. Question why they fail miserably in online but pass in face to face.

Ridiculous Idea

April 20th, 2012
6:40 am

The reason good teachers are good teachers is because they can recognize a look of puzzlement on a child’s face, zoom in, and offer a different method of teaching a concept.
A good teacher is a good teacher because she gets up out of her chair and helps the children learn.
A good teacher is a good teacher because she is a human being with compassion….
…..and all those things require the student to be physically there.
This horrible idea is made by someone wanting to
A: sell computer equipment
B: slash a budget without regard to the real needs of children.
The NUMBER ONE factor in a child
s ability to learn is the human being standing in front of them. She’s called a teacher and you cannot replace her wiht a live meeting, a recording, or a dam& computer.
Good Mother

Top Tier Teachers

April 20th, 2012
6:44 am

Listen to this fact : “Hassel said that only about 25 percent of classes have one of these top-tier teachers at a given time. That means the other 75 percent don’t.”

So the SOLUTION is to hire TOP TIER teachers, not buy computer equipment.

What a bozo Hassel is. His idea is the same thing as saying “Only 25 percent of cars on the road are safe to drive so we are going to take away all the other 75 percent of the cars away from the drivers who need to go somewhere and give them a pair of stilts to walk on instead…”

Stupid thinking.
Hassel needs to go.
Good Mother

Mountain Man

April 20th, 2012
7:29 am

Mikey D. – You are absolutely correct that the skills of the best teachers lies only in the way they deliver a lecture.

Mountain Man

April 20th, 2012
7:30 am

do not lie in the way they deliver a lecture.


April 20th, 2012
7:57 am

“Hassel said that only about 25 percent of classes have one of these top-tier teachers at a given time. That means the other 75 percent don’t.:

Can Mr. Hassel support that statement with more than one research study?


April 20th, 2012
7:57 am

“Most schools function like they always have — a single teacher overseeing a classroom with, on average, 23 students. That’s in contrast with every other industry in the country where technology plays a larger and larger role in how work is done.”

While I’m may not be podcasting to 100+ students, please do not assume technology is not playing a role in my classroom.


April 20th, 2012
7:58 am

“Under rigid rules on teacher pay and class size, Hassel said there aren’t strong incentives now for teachers to embrace technology or become involved in shaping it.”

“Rigid rules on teacher pay?” Seriously? In other words…Mr. Hassel wants to force teachers into “embracing” technology by making their pay dependent on implementation and firing those who drag their feet on using technology in the classroom.

Whether or not their current method of instruction is effective is obviously irrelevant to Mr. Hassel.

Attentive Parent

April 20th, 2012
8:01 am

catlady-much of the emphasis on charter schools, and districts at least in the case of Fulton, appears to be driven by getting a governing legal document in place that is poorly understood by the parents and taxpayers. They assume charters provide superior control. The boards know what they specified they wanted. The documents I have read all contain terms that have terms that are 180 degrees from what most parents think they would mean.

Much like the Georgia legislature in passing statutes on education based on what the lobbyists say they mean. Guess which governs?

It’s a bit like when Arne Duncan’s rhetoric clashes with the language of the fed DoEd’s regulations.

Maybe I should write an Attentive Parent Glossary of Terms.

Attentive Parent

April 20th, 2012
8:02 am

Have meanings.

Warning-do not start writing before morning cup.


April 20th, 2012
8:07 am

I recognize that technology is here to stay and should be integrated into classroom instruction. I get that part.

However, am I the only one that isn’t the least bit concerned that we seem to be hell bent on eliminating the “human” element from our children’s lives?

We already have a generation that is more comfortable with texting than actual conversation. More comfortable “watching” a YouTube video than participating in a Socratic seminar.

Anyone concerned with the attention span of this generation? Anyone concerned with the ability of this generation to stick to a task without checking facebook, twitter, or text messages every 10-15 minutes.

Stand back and watch this generation. Watch how long they can last without pulling out the phone. Is this really a “good” thing?

Balance is a good thing. Learning to use appropriate technology is important. However, we should proceed with caution before we throw out solid pedagogy to make room for the latest fad.

William Casey

April 20th, 2012
8:16 am


My Two Cents

April 20th, 2012
8:56 am

When will these nitwits step back and realize some of what makes these teachers amazing is that they are engaging, in person, with face-to-face with their students, and every second of the day absorbing both verbal and nonverbal feedback to reach those students?

I’m not knocking online altogether, but simply taking “that teacher” and putting him or her in an online forum does not make an amazing class.


April 20th, 2012
9:51 am

Anytime you ask an organizational behavior question the answer is “it depends.” That’s the case 100% of the time. Now exceptions.

In this case, it completely depends on the student’s response to online learning.

Teacher, Too

April 20th, 2012
10:04 am

Tip-toe into technology, especially in using on-line/distance learning. This may be a good idea for college students, but certainly not for middle or high school students (at least, not the majority of high school students).

It takes a certain amount of intrinsic motivation to focus on the lectures, follow-through and submit assignments on time, and then study and take the tests and pass! This is difficult for college students and adults– how will this apply to high school students? Perhaps a small percentage of high school students are equipped to handle this level of academic freeedom. Most students need the structure of the classroom.

When I was deciding on a graduate school, I knew I needed to attend actual classes. On-line/distance learning was not for me. I needed the accountability of attending classes, making sure I had my reading assignments completed, and my research papers ready to hand in. Plus, I needed the human contact of being with other students and my professors.

Personally, I believe all this technology fosters isolation. Kids (and adults, for that matter) no longer know how to converse with each other. Go to a restaurant, and you see people texting and talking on their cell phones to other people, ignoring the ones sitting at the table. Kids are relating through IM and text– and it reflects in how they interact with one another. In teaching for twenty-two years, I have noticed that writing skills and sustained attention have diminished in the students I have taught. Not to mention, grammar skills across all ages have declined dramatically. Just watch the news, listen to the radio, or read any of the blogs (Sidenote: I know that blogs are for instant responses– but can one not proofread before hitting send? I’m not talking about typos, but significant grammatical errors!).

I’m currently having this conversation with my students this week. Ray Bradbury was correct in fearing too much technology. Not only has it dumbed us down, but it isolates us as well.


April 20th, 2012
10:19 am

Only 25% have top tier teachers
There was a magazine article about a data analysis company that does work around the country, including for the Fulton and Gwinnet Schools. “Results in 4 of 5 districts found that novice teachers were regularly placed with low-performing students.” “It’s well-understood anecdotally, but after we show them the data, it has been a bit of a show-stopper….why would you disproportionately place novice teachers with low-performing students?”

Ron F.

April 20th, 2012
10:36 am

“Maybe I should write an Attentive Parent Glossary of Terms”

I wish someone would before we jump off the high dive into the charter pool. The water’s a little too cloudy for me!

Teacher too: I was just the opposite. The online class format was perfect for me. I had time to be the single parent AND college student without the two overlapping much. That motivated me to participate and I was actually pleased with the amount of interaction required. It was nice not to have to drive to Atlanta and pay parking, gas, etc. It all depends on learning style, and I’m not convinced technology has enough variety and skill to meet all the styles out there. No matter what anyone says, there will always be a need for face-to-face interaction.

Ron F.

April 20th, 2012
10:40 am

“why would you disproportionately place novice teachers with low-performing students?”

bu2- I’ve been asking that question for years!! Some teachers see it as a rite of passage to work your way out of those classes. There aren’t enough veterans out there willing to work with the low-performing kids. It’s exhausting, rewarding, demanding work and it burns you out if you’re not careful. I think the solution is to train teachers specifically for that crowd and give them lots of support and incentive to stay. Until we address the turn over rate with low-performing groups, we’ll never get a solid base of teachers to deal with them.

Teacher, Too

April 20th, 2012
10:45 am

Ron F: That’s why I think on-line/distance learning is appropriate for college students/adults. I’m not sure that many or most high school students are that disciplined yet. Definitely some high school students could handle that responsibility, but I think most students need the accountability of attending class. We have enough problems with student absenteeism…and those students rarely make up their work when they are absent without being constantly reminded.

One other thought– with all the technology that is in place (on-line grade books, blogs, ect.), you would think that students would take advantage of that technology, yet few do. It doesn’t matter if I post my notes to the blog or that I post the daily agenda of what was covered in class that day…students still ask, “What did I miss yesterday?”

My response, “Did you check the blog?”

Student response, “No.”

Even though they have internet access, my students rarely take advantage of the academic uses of technology.


April 20th, 2012
10:46 am

Technology should augment teaching; not replace it.

Ron F.

April 20th, 2012
10:50 am

Teacher too: it’s going to take some time to change kids’ view of technology. Until the mature some, they see it more as entertainment than learning tool. Isn’t it funny how the parents want things posted online that the kids won’t even look up? I know some teachers who have actually set up class Facebook pages. Now there’s a site the kids will be sure to visit! :-)

Up until recently, we weren’t really talking about how kids understand and use technology at school and the whole social diversion problem. I think the fact that we’re talking about it now may help us in the long run. But it is going to take time to get kids, because of their maturity, to see technology (especially websites) as important learning tools.

Tonya C.

April 20th, 2012
10:51 am


Why would veteran teachers want the challenges and frustrations of low-performing populations? It is a lot of work, with no financial incentive and very little recognition. Add to that lack of continuous parent support, administrative burdens, and testing mania the fact that people are still willing to do it is a testimony to tenacity.

Tonya C.

April 20th, 2012
10:55 am

Ron F.

Teach for America is essentially doing that. But their turnover rate is high after their contract is up. Or they want to go into administration.

To address turnover rates with teacher in low-performing groups, the communities that comprise those groups will need to be evaluated. It is human nature to want to be valued and appreciated for your work, and after speaking to teachers in those settings I think many of them don’t feel that.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 20th, 2012
11:02 am

Schools should SPRINT, not run or walk into the digital era. The world has changed since the digital revolution, all except our nation’s classrooms. With Georgia having less than 50 qualified high school physics teachers (maybe that number has risen slightly – my data is a couple of years old), online learning gives every student access to qualified teachers, especially in school districts where these teachers are missing.


April 20th, 2012
11:07 am

We should pause before we too quickly bow down before the altar of technology. I have read some articles that suggest that internet learning methods are not as effective as traditional ones. We should experiment and carefully evaluate before rushing headlong into unknown territory. To do this we, as Americans, have to resist our strong cultural bias supporting technology as the answer to everything.


April 20th, 2012
11:12 am

I haven’t read the article or the replies. Nonetheless, here goes:

Schools should walk into the digital era.
For the most part, K-12 does not need the internet. Math, English, Science, History, Political Science can all be taught without the internet at all! But since students will need the internet throughout life, exposure to the internet is necessary to learn how to research papers, how to use basic computer tools, how to type, etc. These are necessary college skills as well as life skills.

Recognizing that computers/internet is not a differentiating factor in performance of students in core curriculum, they should be put on the back burner. Focus should be placed where it belongs: in classroom teaching of the basics.


April 20th, 2012
11:16 am

@Being Censored: Isn’t that the purpose of GA Virtual?


April 20th, 2012
11:44 am

“Technology is inevitable,” said John Chubb, distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a founder of EdisonLearning. “We can’t put our fingers in the dikes and stop technology from coming.”

No, technology need not be inevitable. It can and should be resisted. Technology expansion is out of control and an unnecessary expense. And since when does technology save time? It INCREASES the level of exchanges and becomes a never-ending labyrinth. I’m sorry, but asking a teacher to teach 100 students is asking too much! Kids need personal interaction, not virtual learning. Why do policy makers think this is so wonderful? I’m not convinced we need to continue rushing in this direction.

Tonya C.

April 20th, 2012
11:47 am

On the topic at hand, I think there should be a focus on integration–not replacement. But I can see this being used as a substitute for quality teaching because the people in charge want to integrate on the cheap.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 20th, 2012
11:48 am

I would have you all take a look at a study that the Dept of Education conducted a few years ago. In the report, it stated “Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction”. We are not talking about virtual schooling, teacher&mom – we’re talking about “blended learning.” Everyone likes to think of these new inventions in the EXTREME. Blending learning plus parental engagement equals successful learning.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 20th, 2012
11:50 am

And Eric, I must add one more thing, since it relates to a book I am writing. There is something called moderation, and if you don’t want your children to be vulnerable to deviant behavior, then you better not withhold technology from them completely. Baby steps, but give them some rope and the rope gets longer as they demonstrate responsible behavior.