The promise — and peril — of online learning

computer (Medium)I listened to a panel this morning on “The Promise and Impact of Broadband Education.” The online panel discussed the role of high-speed Internet – including wireless broadband – on schools and looked at an initiative at Kramer Middle School, a public school in Washington, D.C.

The panelists were Kwame Simmons, principal at Kramer Middle School, and David Teeter, director of policy at the 3,800-member International Association for K-12 Online learning.

The session demonstrated one of the ongoing problems of online education. Both panelists encountered technical issues, which delayed the program. The moderator — referencing the “peril and the promise” of technology — had to stall for time, asking one panelist questions, while the other tried for several minutes to join the event. There were lots of “Are you there?”

Among the points made by panelists:

–30 states have virtual school/online initiatives.

–There is a trend to blend digital content and student management systems with classroom instruction. “In terms of what schools are doing, blended learning models have huge implications,” said Teeter. “No. 1, we are seeing increasing access to digital learning devices, which are enabling any-time, anywhere access of students, and for that matter, teachers to content and research with which to learn.”

–Limits still exist on the expansion of broadband education: They include bans on teachers teaching across state lines. Accreditation is often based on seat time rather than outcomes. There is a limited supply of high quality online learning systems and digital content. There is limited digital literacy among teacher and students.

–Expect an explosion of digital content in the next 5 to 10 years, including the replacement of traditional textbooks.

— Kramer Middle School principal Kwame Simmons said his school had been identified as persistently low performing. The school is supposed to increase its performance on district testing by 40 percentage points. Now, only 23 percent of the school’s students are proficient in reading, and 22 percent are proficient in math. So, the school is supposed to raise those rates to 63 and 62.

—To improve its outcomes, Kramer Middle School has chosen a blended instruction model, half digital and half face-to-face in the classroom. It will be Washington’s first blended learning school.

–Kramer Middle School piloted blended learning last year, using desktop computers, Smartboards and laptops. The school created an honors online math class using a Johns Hopkins University math program.

–Kramer Middle School will operate with a traditional 90-minute class block, 45 minutes of which will be virtual learning. The teacher will be in the room and able to provide feedback. All courses will have online teaching and learning, using several curricula and technical support providers including the Florida Virtual School, Johns Hopkins, Adaptive Curriculum and TVTextbook.

–Kramer teachers have received professional development to get ready for the change.

After the panel, I read a dozen news stories about the Kramer Middle School plan from Washington area media, including the Washington Post. I thought this Post comment from a District of Columbia Public School teacher was worth noting as it helps provide context to those low scores that the principal cited:

Being very familiar with Kramer and its population, I don’t think it will work. Kramer has some students with severe and unaddressed behavioral problems, a significant group (four classes and 1 Emotionally Disturbed) of Intellectually Challenged students, along with a high percent of special needs students (about 35%) that have been formally identified.

I’m willing to venture 10-15% of unidentified students would also qualify. Too bad the class sizes for these kids were larger than what should have been under DCPS guidelines, Blackmon consent, and the WTU contract. With that said, these kids need individual and human instruction and interaction, not a computer.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

63 comments Add your comment

[...] This will impact higher ed. too.  [...]

living in an outdated ed system

August 10th, 2012
12:26 pm

I keep thinking of the theme song from a soap opera re-run: “Like sands of the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives.”

What I mean by that is that these posts are like re-runs. When will we be able to debate a FAVORABLE research study on online learning? There are tons out there. Just read research from the Innosight Institute, Fordham Institute, and plenty other think tanks. Oh…but you’ll say they’re conservatives. No they’re not. They’re introducing new ideas and change and this is a change that IS inevitable.

If you continue to keep digital learning out of public education, our children will suffer enormous damage because they will be left behind. It might be hard for you and other educators who did not grow up with digital technology, but it’s not about the teacher. It’s about the child, and a good teacher can leverage any and all resources to deliver knowledge to EACH child.

Good grief. Enough already. We know you’re anti-online learning. And I’m sure by the time this post is published, there will be lots of of other anti-online learning comments.

mathmom

August 10th, 2012
12:34 pm

There are several studies that suggest that online learning works best for highly motivated students whose academic performance is considerably above average. These are the students who crave coursework unavailable at their schools. Want to take Chinese? Probably not available at your local high school. Here in Georgia, there are many courses available through the DOE’s Virtual School. These high level courses are not to be confused with the packaged curricula, some of which are online and some of which are site-licensed software, widely available and often used for tutorials and/or credit recovery.

Proud Teacher

August 10th, 2012
12:34 pm

I, too, am anti-online learning for students. There is a nuturing of children that is inherent in the classroom. I am not opposed to some limited on-line learning or remediation, but never ever should a machine replace the physical teacher. Children are too attached to technology in the first place. Part of the ills of society now come from people not being able to work amiably with other people. Online learning is cold and impersonal. My experience with online learning as a continuing education credit was too much busy work and not enough substance, and this was the online course the Georgia BOE recommended!

living in an outdated ed system

August 10th, 2012
1:01 pm

@Mathmom – let me comment on your post. There are studies that show that online learning increases intrinsic motivation of students. If the content is engaging, their motivation will improve. Unmotivated students become motivated. I have not only research, but I have also seen hours of video testimonials from parents and children regarding online learning tools.

We’re not just talking virtual schools here. I’m talking more about blended learning, where you incorporate online learning platforms into the school day that significantly improve student learning.

Solutions

August 10th, 2012
1:06 pm

On-line learning means the classroom teacher no longer gets to pick winners and losers in the class! No more special treatment for special people.

TheGoldenRam

August 10th, 2012
1:23 pm

This D.C. experiment is never going to work. We all know that. It’s not going to be the fault of the on-line delivery method, anymore than the widespread failure in traditional high minority/poverty schools is the fault of the majority of teachers. It’s culture, expectations, environment, values, self-esteem, family structure, role models, etc, etc.. Am I to believe that inner-city kids that are failing the material in a classroom setting with at least some level of oversight are going to miraculously find the self-discipline & initiative to stay engaged in their often chaotic home environment? Seriously? I would ask if the reformers behind this effort had ever been into these communities and homes, but that’s not the point. They’ve been there & they know. Fixing the problem isn’t even the point anymore. I’ve become convinced that the problems are so ingrained, so intractable and so politically sensitive/difficult to even allow approach, that the emphasis now all goes into the effort side. Not the predictable results side. These are the hail mary passes borne out of desperation.
I think online learning is an amazing tool. I use it myself now. I wish we had it when I was in grade school. I just think that for this VERY vulnerable demographic, you’re sacrificing the most valuable aspect of school. That’s getting those kids away from some of those communities, the peer groups, the chaos, the crime & the lack of expectations, for at least six or seven hours per weekday. The learning & academic structure is now going to coexist within their normal worlds. I suppose nothing should surprise me anymore about the educational realm.

Beverly Fraud

August 10th, 2012
1:33 pm

Kramer has some students with severe and unaddressed behavioral problems

A truer statement hasn’t been made. UNADDRESSED behavioral problems.

And you can’t address them by addressing everything else EXCEPT them.

In other words you can’t ERASE them away.

TheGoldenRam

August 10th, 2012
1:33 pm

I re-read the story. I mistakenly thought this was an all-virtual school. Whew! If this is adding a digital/online component to a traditional brick & mortar school, I’m all about that. I really like what online learning can do to open up new material to motivated students.

P.s. In the case of the school cited in this story, it’ll still fail. See my previous post.

jd

August 10th, 2012
1:35 pm

Costs of broadband to the home will become an important part of the “cost” of education. Moves by AT&T to charge by the byte have an impact on the quality of those connections as well — my children find that download speeds below 2 mbs create jerky video — and a poor experience. Won’t be long that network costs will exceed textbook costs

Beverly Fraud

August 10th, 2012
1:46 pm

These are the hail mary passes borne out of desperation.

These aren’t even hail marys. These are hail marys where you’ve decided to let the field goal kicker throw the pass and an offensive lineman try to sprint 60 yards down field to catch it.

This is America saying we are going to defeat the Jamaicans in sprinting by matching Bob Costas head to head with Usain Bolt, because Costas “has a lot of Olympic experience”

mathmom

August 10th, 2012
1:46 pm

@ living in an outdated ed system: My point was simply that research shows online courses work well with motivated students who are academic achievers. I did not say, and I did not mean to imply, that other children cannot also benefit from online programs. I did want to differentiate between the tutorial sites/software and online sites that present students with new material.

Tired

August 10th, 2012
1:48 pm

This is irrelevant for the rural areas of the state that don’t have any kind of high-speed internet access. How about we address that problem first?

TheGoldenRam

August 10th, 2012
1:48 pm

You’re right Beverly Fraud. However, in a future of virtual schools where everyone beams themselves into a given forum, you can either press mute or drop the connection to any problem participants. Out of sight, out of mind & out of the way.
We really need some compromise in our society’s educational philosophy. I’m partial to Some Children Left Behind. Let’s save as many as we possibly can, but stop getting tripped up by the impossible task of saving everyone. I bet we’d get A LOT MORE kids through successfully if our efforts weren’t diluted by naive attempts to find some mythical formula that saves everyone.

living in an outdated ed system

August 10th, 2012
1:57 pm

@Mathmom – unless I misunderstood you, you said that online learning will work ONLY with academic achievers. I am telling you that I have research that proves that any child, and most specifically the lowest achievers, will thrive with online learning!

living in an outdated ed system

August 10th, 2012
2:00 pm

@TheGoldenRam – let me point out that online learning does mean only virtual schools. Look up the free report “The Rise of Blended Learning” and you’ll understand that the definition is far broader. I don’t believe that virtual school will ever replace traditional schooling environments, but they will grown in the role as a viable option for some students.

TheGoldenRam

August 10th, 2012
2:30 pm

@ living – I agree with you. I have no doubt the option will grow, probably at a pretty dramatic pace. I like the idea of blended and/or completely virtual schools, so long as they aren’t expected to replace aspects of education that I believe are critical to vulnerable populations(i.e. physical attendance, tangible exposure to role models, etc.). I’ve just seen too many examples of the absolute chaos that defines the daily lives of those within some communities. Placing the ‘classroom’ into that environment and leaving the kid there 24/7 just strikes me as an inevitable disaster. Online learning for motivated students with more stable lives or high achievers looking to move beyond material they have already mastered is a wonderful option to have. So again, I think we pretty much agree on this.

living in an outdated ed system

August 10th, 2012
2:48 pm

@TheGoldenRam – couldn’t agree more

Pride and Joy

August 10th, 2012
2:51 pm

***What Computers Can’t Do****
Do you know what online learning CANNOT DO?
A computer cannot look at the child’s face and see if there is comprehension.
We all know what that looks like.
You’re talking to someone and by the look on their face you know whether they are engaged, bored, daydreaming, confused and so on.
Computers cannot do that.
A good teacher, a Mary Elizabeth type, gets up in front of the class and teaches. She looks at the faces of her students and she can see, without saying a word, what she needs to do next. If she sees a little confused face, she can ask that student a question to check for understanding. If she sees a look mof frustration, she can go to the child’s side and offer help.
ONLY human beings can do that.
In business, there was a trend to stop flying our trainers around the company and instead give everyone a computer based training. The results were the proof we’d made a mistake. What we learned is that computer based training is an excellent tool for preparing the employee before the trainer arrived. It’s a tool to help get the employee ready to receive a visit from the trainer.
Some classroom teachers will champion computer based training in classrooms because it makes it easy on the teacher. I’ve seen it happen many times. The teacher parks the kids in front of a computer and ignores them. That’s not what I send my child to school. If that’s the case, we wouldn’t need any teachers at all.
NOTHING replaces the skills of a good teacher such as one like Mary Elizabeth. The best technology can do is to capture, on film and on audio, how good teachers perform and use those examples for teachers to follow.

catlady

August 10th, 2012
2:52 pm

I’ve had the same experience: Presenters who come to show us how great technology-based ed will work have their come-uppance when they hit the real world. I’d like to say it only occasionally happens, but in my experience every time we have a technology dependent presentation, we spend long minutes watching the presenter and IT people try to get it working! And they are presenting to adults who won’t tear the room apart while they try to solve the bugs.

I don’t think we need technology as much as I think we need TEACH-nology!

Bernie

August 10th, 2012
3:09 pm

Unfortunately, for most the students of Georgia’s public education system. On-Line education will be the ONLY remaining affordable choice for many of our students across the STATE after the failure of the Charter School experiment and the coming proposed school voucher payment plan. Lets hope and pray the process of on-line education improves dramatically to a more acceptable level and welcoming to higher institutions of learning over the next 4-5 years.

bootney farnsworth

August 10th, 2012
3:13 pm

@ outdated

I’m curious-how many on line educators do you know? me? I know almost every one of them at GPC.
I even know Dr. Moon, who revolutionized distance ed/online learning and who has been sited for it nationally. i think Internationally, too, but don’t know for sure.

and to one degree or another, they all say a version of the same thing. “its not for everybody”

10, 20 years from now it probably will be more effective on a broader scale. but not today
no amount of wishing, mythical union bashing, or quotes from Waiting for Superman will make it so

bootney farnsworth

August 10th, 2012
3:19 pm

@ living

how about sharing your research? it’ll be interesting to see how it stand up to the vetting process.

see, I can find you some really slick looking, impressive research on how blacks are genetically inferior to whites. problem is, its all from white supremacy groups

context being everything, ya know

yuzeyurbrane

August 10th, 2012
3:28 pm

When I was a senior in high school in 2007-2008, I took an online statistics course because scheduling conflicts wouldn’t allow me to fill the math credit otherwise. I know at that point, online classes were much more in the guinea pig stage than they are now, but I ran into some notable problems. The way my online class was set up, I would go to the library during second period and sign on to the website that we were using to teach the course. I would do reading and take quizzes there, following the day’s lesson. Once or twice a week, I would sign on at home and a teacher would come into what was basically a chat room with the students. There was also a sketch pad in the middle that she would do problems on and she would answer questions along the way. So obviously, number one, the amount of time we had with an actual teacher was reduced quite a lot. Because of this, I basically end up having to teach myself from the book. Most high schoolers do not have the self-discipline or wherewithal to teach themselves math. Most people don’t. I had to go to real-life math teachers in the school (who already had full schedules with their actual students) to get help and even to a tutor at one point to make sure I would pass the class. Obviously, the model being proposed here includes an actual classroom with an actual teacher in it, so I think it would be less of a problem, but it still seems to be putting more space between the teacher and the student. That’s a bad idea. I remember in high school and middle school, too, certain days we would go to computer labs for our classes– this sounds closer to the model that’s being suggested. They were widely known among students as opportunities to slack off and surf the internet. Even if there were webfilters up, we knew how to get around them, They would frequently end up being wasted days.
I think that using computers as a tool to replace older, more expensive or out-of-date tools, is a great idea. Texts books get old. Kids write and draw in them. They lose pages. When you live in a district that can’t even afford enough textbooks for all of your students, you certainly can’t afford to get new, up-to-date ones. This technology has the potential to level the playing field between high and low income areas.Online class materials still cost money, but I imagine the long term costs are cheaper. However, it should replace the tools, not the teachers. Nothing can replace a good teacher. They’re not just dispensing information. They make that information digestible to students, they encourage them, they keep them from slacking off, they often act as an authority figure who can be trusted if there’s anything going on at home. If Georgia wants to save some money on education, it shouldn’t do it by putting more room in between students and teachers, or else anyone who wants to pass a class is going to have to get a tutor, and those who can afford tutors will have an even more disproportionate amount of academic success than those who can’t.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

August 10th, 2012
3:54 pm

How might one engage in a serious post-class conversation over a cup of coffee or a bottle of beer with his/her computer?

catlady

August 10th, 2012
4:01 pm

Dr. Spinks: Good point. Most IBM clones crash at the mere sight of liquid. My Macs have always been able to hold the liquid and still work, but some folks prefer the PC.

Mary Elizabeth

August 10th, 2012
4:09 pm

If online instruction is used in classrooms, under the direct supervision of teachers, I can envision a situation which could be beneficial to students and teachers. I have mentioned, before on this blog, the wide range of reading levels (and no doubt) mathematics skill levels that invariably exist among students in the same grade level.

If teachers, via computer access of students’ standardized test scores, were to chart each of their student’s grade level scores on these standardized tests in reading, math, and their particular curriculum area – say in science – from these standardized test scores, they could, then, plan to implement online computer lab days, or parts of class periods for computer online labs, in which they would already have assigned (in their planning for a particular lesson) online lessons of varying degrees of difficulty for different students under the same theme (say – “the human skeletal system”).

In that instructional plan using online computers, if Johnny’s group is reading on 5th grade level in the teacher’s 10th grade biology class, that group of students could actually read content on “the human skeletal system” written on a 5th grade level, and if Sammy’s group is reading on 10th grade level in 10th grade, his group would be assigned an online instructional lesson written on 10th grade level that would, also, focus on “the human skeletal system.”

When the online lesson part of the lesson had been completed in class, the teacher would then lecture to the whole class (or discuss with the whole class) based on the material covered in the online lessons, that had been varied to fit individual instructional need. In this way, individual differences could easily be addressed, yet not overburden the teacher in addressing them. Moreover, the teacher could circulate as a teaching facilitator to students, of varying functioning levels in her 10th grade class, during the online lesson, and give more individualized attention to each student’s varied instructional needs while other students continued to watch their individualized online lessons.

williebkind

August 10th, 2012
4:19 pm

Hmmm, this is a liberal nightmare! How do you indoctrinate online? I know the answer to the online question. Pour more money into it. That willl fix it.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

August 10th, 2012
4:37 pm

Actually Willie, I know the answer because a professor at Columbia told me. Then Michael Horn of the Innosight Institute reiterated it about 45 minutes into a presentation he gave to Georgia Public Policy Foundationa about a year ago. Tom Vander Ark makes the same point in his book.

Digital literacy changes how kids think if they have not yet acquired the kind of abstract, analytical, sequential, thinking reenforced by phonetic interactions in print. It is called an Axemakers Mind and unfortunately way too many professors and administrators and policy planners do not want students to be good at weighing different mental scenarios or thinking logically with their own set of facts.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/blending-sustainability-and-education-to-gain-arational-nonlinear-minds-and-new-behaviors/ is a post explaining why an Axemakers Mind is considered an impediment to desired political, economic, and social transformation. All over the world actually pushed by UNESCO. Now it’s the US’s turn.

Horn’s comment that really stuck in my mind was how digital learning was absolutely not just another way to access print. James Burke’s book really clued me into what and why digital learning was being pushed so hard beyond how lucrative it is for the vendors.

And the UN is pushing the idea that broadband is a basic human right. Sounds good until you realize we are being asked to pay the bill.

Chunter

August 10th, 2012
5:20 pm

I’m guessing this blog’s teachers’ union cohort will never find merit in distance learning.

Beyond the fact that someone, somewhere might conceivably make a profit (gasp!) delivering cost-effective educational services—the concept is intrinsically unfriendly to teachers’ unions. Imagine the difficulties, for instance, in trying to force unionized school districts nationwide to pay more for unionized, in-state professionals. And what if fewer unionized classroom teachers is the end result?

Or suppose minority (specifically black) kids are found to perform less well by any objective or subjective—or even vaguely anecdotal—measurement?

redweather

August 10th, 2012
5:23 pm

@living in an outdated ed system, you write: “There are studies that show that online learning increases intrinsic motivation of students.”

“Intrinsic motivation” sounds like jargon. Plain old motivation would do, wouldn’t it?

You also write: “I am telling you that I have research that proves that any child, and most specifically the lowest achievers, will thrive with online learning!”

There is no credible research “that proves any child . . . will thrive with online learning.” Some things simply can’t be proved no matter how much we believe in them.

yuzeyurbrane

August 10th, 2012
5:28 pm

My daughter posted above under my handle. Listen to her. Honors graduate from UGA and she is the only 1 speaking from actual experience without political axe to grind.

my2cents

August 10th, 2012
5:30 pm

All this is supposing that the software being used actually works! the GA virtual school class my child took showed a few flaws in the system – the downloaded files were not always readable, the examples that were given showed incorrect values (human error!) and there were a LOT of issues getting my childs homework uploaded, which persisted into the actual final test – where in a panic he ended up getting someone to FAX the printed worksheet. If he had been taking the test at home this failure to get the work submitted would have caused him to fail the class. I related this story to my sister who told me that her oldest had experienced the SAME issues TWO YEARS PREVIOUSLY.
So, the questions is not just is on-line learning a good idea but CAN IT BE ADMINISTERED CORRECTLY and have the TECHNICAL ISSUES worked out with some degree of urgency. I can see it would be great and I have taken many on-line classes as an adult, but the GA Virtual School classes need to be technically bullet-proof and they are not.

Dr. Monica Henson

August 10th, 2012
5:33 pm

I invite all naysayers to watch closely as we open Provost Academy Georgia, a virtual public charter high school that will serve kids statewide. We are also adding Magic Johnson Bridgescape centers to offer blended learning environments to at-risk students in four cities.

I am a firm believer that technology, no matter how cutting edge, can replace an excellent teacher–the key is to put the technology into the hands of those kinds of teachers. That is the essence of PAGA–combining experienced, knowledgeable, creative, innovative teachers with state-of-the-art digital tools.

If you don’t believe that blended learning environments work for at-risk students, then read this essay that was written recently by by Anthony Hunter, a student at the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

The Day That Changed My Life

To be honest, I never thought that I would be able to graduate from high school, or even get my life together. I made a lot of bad decisions in my life. Some decisions that got me in a lot of trouble and other decisions that were just dumb, like dropping out of school.

I hated getting up in the morning, I hated doing the work, but the biggest reason why I dropped out of school was to help my mom financially around the house, and the only way I knew how to do that was to sell drugs. After I got arrested a couple times, and after the death of my grandmother, I started to think that I would never know a life that wasn’t bad. That was until I moved with my Dad to Bridgeton, N.J.

I remember when I first learned about Bridgescape. My Step-Uncle gave me a paper that had some information about the academy. My Dad asked if I would be interested in it, and I told him that I would be willing to check it out. So, the next day he took me to the Alms Center, where Bridgescape is located. I have to admit, my intentions were go there, get whatever forms I would need to enroll, and go home to think about it. But I was wrong. As soon as we got in the building we were greeted by Ms. Baldwin, the manager and teacher at Bridgescape. She wasted no time getting me excited, and I signed up to attend school. That was the day that changed my life.

Now I love going to school. I can work at my own pace and even get awarded when I get perfect attendance for the week. The teachers make me feel very comfortable in class and they help me whenever I need help with my work. I have earned 25 credits since joining in April, and I know I will graduate soon.

Bridgescape is one of the major reasons why I think positively about my life. It gave me the confidence to turn my life around and get a job. Now I can look forward to what the future has in store for me.

Dr. Monica Henson

August 10th, 2012
5:34 pm

“…technology canNOT replace an excellent teacher.” Sorry for the typo–hit a bump in the road on the RTA Xpress bus. :)

Note

August 10th, 2012
5:38 pm

Isn’t it interesting that the high schools are asking students to bring their own devices to school, yet the colleges are asking students to turn off their cell phones in order to improve the learning environment…. quite the disconnect!

Beverly Fraud

August 10th, 2012
6:23 pm

Why are we willing to try everything under the sun EXCEPT DEALING DIRECTLY with the chronically disruptive students who destroy the sanctity of the learning environment?

Maybe they (the chronically disruptive) are a place to start with online learning. Bring them to a center and tell them you can interact with a computer, or you can interact with a CUBICLE. Given a choice between interaction online and “interaction” with a felt wall, we might get some of that “motivation” out of them.

Maybe it won’t benefit them, but we sure as heck know it benefits those who CHOOSE to behave and CHOOSE to work. 85-90% of the students get an AUTOMATIC upgrade to their educational experience. We just don’t have the political will to do it. And thought this state legislature was fully of “law and order” Republicans…

paulo977

August 10th, 2012
6:53 pm

Proud Teacher
Online learning is cold and impersonal.
__________________________________________

You have actually summed up the current state of learning in the schools here……the preoccupation with performance on tests really has undermined interest in REAL learning ! Drill drill drill the right answers into them !! No interest in real understanding..

Mary Elizabeth

August 10th, 2012
6:55 pm

Pride and Joy, 2:51 pm

“Do you know what online learning CANNOT DO?
A computer cannot look at the child’s face and see if there is comprehension.
We all know what that looks like.
You’re talking to someone and by the look on their face you know whether they are engaged, bored, daydreaming, confused and so on.
Computers cannot do that.
A good teacher, a Mary Elizabeth type, gets up in front of the class and teaches. She looks at the faces of her students and she can see, without saying a word, what she needs to do next. If she sees a little confused face, she can ask that student a question to check for understanding. If she sees a look mof frustration, she can go to the child’s side and offer help.
ONLY human beings can do that.”

============================================

Pride and Joy, I just read your 2:51 pm post. First of all, thank you very much for your words of wisdom about how I tried to teach. You are correct in your assessment of that. There is an art and a science to teaching. The art involves nonverbal communication and knowing – on a deeper level than words can convey – what each student is experiencing each moment, emotionally and intellectually. Excellent teachers know when that “light bulb” lights up in the student’s mind simply by a change in the student’s eyes, or by a change in his/her expression.

I loved your line, “If she sees a look of frustration, she can go to the child’s side and offer help. ONLY human beings can do that.” I found that, sometimes, simply the physical presence of the teacher beside the student can steady his or her focus – if the student is distracted, for any number of possible reasons. Good teachers don’t judge or blame students; they simply trust their own intelllectual and intuitive perceptives about students and they give of themselves as much as they can to insure that their students will meet with success – so that they not only gain skills and knowledge but confidence in themselves.

Thank you for understanding these deeper aspects of teaching.

My post at 4:09 pm demonstrates more of the “science,” than the “art,” of teaching. That logistical instructional understanding is important for teachers to have, also. In that post, I explain ways that teachers can use online instruction to help create lessons that will individualize to the varied instructional needs of all of the teacher’s students, but as you and Dr. Henson, both, point out, online instruction can never replace an excellent, caring teacher. I thoroughly agree. Online instruction can best be used only as an aid to teachers, under their direction, with their expertise in how to make online instruction “come alive” for students. How much use, or how little use, of online instruction in each class lesson will depend on many factors and certainly the particular population of the teacher’s class will be the dominant factor to be considered. It is counterproductive to use online instruction if it is not effective with a given body of students. An excellent teacher can size up how effective online instruction is with certain students, quickly. It should not be used in situations where it is nonproductive or ineffective.

Mary Elizabeth

August 10th, 2012
6:59 pm

Correction: “perceptions,” not “perceptives.”

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

August 10th, 2012
7:20 pm

Beverly Fraud–I have been looking recently at the Environmental Justice Center at Clark Atlanta and what they have written complaining about Atlanta and urban sprawl and how the spatial segregation in various Metro Atlanta counties and different cities amounts to racial and economic discrimination.

When I look at Fulton’s new charter it basically enshrines contractually the bad practices that were going on at APS that led to the need to cheat as long as standardized tests remained. APS has always been sitting in the middle bisecting Fulton County’s school district. Turns out one of the primary remedies this Regional Equity Movement is seeking for the feds to mandate involves metropolitan school districts.

I am afraid instead of trying to fix what is wrong in APS, there is a push to make North Fulton join the dysfunction.

Thought you would find that interesting. Closing the achievement gap by limiting anyone’s ability to read.

Beverly Fraud

August 10th, 2012
9:14 pm

“I am afraid instead of trying to fix what is wrong in APS, there is a push to make North Fulton join the dysfunction.”

And this is one of the major reasons why, even though this charter vote is FRAUGHT WITH PERIL, it will gain support. Not so much a vote for it, but a vote against the educational monolith.

My preferred solution would be a consortium of physicists working to bring sentience to an asteroid, in the hope that, in a moment of Christ-like consciousness, it sacrifices itself by entering the atmosphere and descending on the DOE.

Not likely I know, but far more likely to improve education than anything the current group of educrats have to offer.

Tech Prof

August 10th, 2012
9:18 pm

Practice and feedback are key to education/learning. The mistake will be when politicians or school administrators think that one teacher can serve insanely large numbers of students in an online format. Blended formats can be great. Use technology for certain tasks like content delivery or multiple choice quizzes and tests, while allowing teachers the time to offer detailed feedback on open ended questions, projects, etc.

bootney farnsworth

August 10th, 2012
9:23 pm

hell, lets’s give ‘em what they want. on line charter schools.

Tony

August 10th, 2012
9:53 pm

I have no doubt there is a place for computer based instruction in schools. Finding the right mix that works for students is still elusive. Unfortunately, the big push for on-line charter schools is more of a money grab. Their completion rates are abysmal, yet they receive full pay for student enrollment. They game the system to increase their financial gain, and leave students stranded with poor quality instruction. There is no substitute for the personal interactions that promote learning and these come from well run classrooms.

Old timer

August 10th, 2012
9:58 pm

After working I rural TN…..most teacher were educated on line I saw issues…education lacking in many situations….

SGaTeechur

August 11th, 2012
8:11 am

I have taught students who are not motivated in any shape, style, nor way. I have monitored online classes for these same students. Most, not all, but most of them lack the self-discipline necessary for success using this delivery method. Nothing will ever replace a good very alive teacher in the classroom.

redweather

August 11th, 2012
8:17 am

@ Note, you write, “Isn’t it interesting that the high schools are asking students to bring their own devices to school, yet the colleges are asking students to turn off their cell phones in order to improve the learning environment…. quite the disconnect!”

One critical difference between high school and college is that attendance is mandated by law in the first case and completely voluntary in the second. High school (and middle school) teachers just don’t have the freedom college professors do. They are forced to work with the students they have. Letting them bring their technology toys to class is perhaps the equivalent of using a pacifier.

I had to remove a student from a remedial class at the CC where I teach a few semester ago. He just wouldn’t cooperate. He was a classic example of a young man who did not want to attend college but someone was obviously making him. I documented his continuing nonsense, wrote it up, removed him from the class, and left it up to him to take the next step. He appealed my decision and ultimately took his case to the Dean, no doubt because his parent or parents insisted. His appeal was not granted. I later checked his grades for that semester because I wondered if it was just something about my class, or about the way I teach, that had contributed to his moronic behavior. He got all F’s that semester and hasn’t returned. High school teachers can’t do that.

redweather

August 11th, 2012
8:21 am

@ Old Timer, The dirty little secret of online education at the college level is that the professor can’t tell who is actually doing the work. The Honor System does not work in most cases.

[...] A very interesting report by Maureen Downey on her blog in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a school in Washington D.C.  that will try to raise its low test scores–fast–by turning the kids over to online instruction for half the day. The discussion about the glories of online learning was marred by technical glitches and miscommunication, but no matter. [...]