Tag Archives: online learning

This online high school is not going to change education


The headline at eSchool News reads ‘This online high school could change education’ (a slight modification of the original headline at the Santa Cruz Sentinel). Okay, I’m game. I’ll check it out…

I read about the founders. I read that they’re trying to make the curriculum relevant for students (awesome!). I read the claims that Silicon Valley High School will provide a ‘five star education.’ Okay so far. Then I get to the following:

With the help of a core team of 12 developers and 20 subject matter experts, Teves and Smith have developed a platform and process to deliver ‘best-available’ content to students at a fraction of the cost of similar curricula.


The courses are highly linear and feature well-produced videos starring engaging and highly relevant teachers chosen by the high school’s panel of experts.

And there we have it. ‘Highly linear,’ self-paced, one-size-fits-all courses; videos made by experts; and an online platform to ‘deliver’ them, including quizzes. I’m pretty sure that this is not the first time this has been suggested or tried (MOOCs, anyone? Khan Academy? K12 and Connections Academy? TED-Ed?). And – good intentions aside – I’m pretty sure that these models are essentially replicating online the traditional face-to-face model of sit-and-get, transmission-oriented education that’s dominated for centuries. But, hey, students can proceed at their own pace and do this anywhere…

Video lectures are still lectures:

More than 700 studies have confirmed that lectures are less effective than a wide range of methods for achieving almost every educational goal you can think of. Even for the straightforward objective of transmitting factual information, they are no better than a host of alternatives, including private reading. Moreover, lectures inspire students less than other methods, and lead to less study afterwards.

When will we be willing to confront the need to change the day-to-day learning experiences of students rather than simply trying to repackage traditional methods in different wrappers?

Time to find other employment

In the past decade, most everyone with access has experienced what it's like to learn from anyone, anywhere at any time. In everyday life, this is no longer an event to behold but the way we learn. Any policy maker or leader who doesn't understand and live this needs to find other employment. - Dean Shareski

Dean Shareski said:

In the past decade, most everyone with access has experienced what it’s like to learn from anyone, anywhere at any time. In everyday life, this is no longer an event to behold but the way we learn. Any policy maker or leader who doesn’t understand and live this needs to find other employment.

via http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-shareski/make-it-stop_1_b_8142928.html

The problem with ‘any time, any place, any path, any pace’

Any time, any place, any path, any pace

In most online courses and/or ‘adaptive learning systems’ …

  • Students do low-level work at times that are convenient.
  • Students do low-level work from places that are convenient.
  • Students do low-level work on their own, unique path.
  • Students do low-level work at their own, unique pace.

But it’s still low-level work. 

Digitizing, chunking, and algorithmizing worksheet-like learning tasks doesn’t move them out of the domains of factual recall and procedural regurgitation. The modality doesn’t change the substance of the learning task. Until we are willing to address the kinds of work that we ask students to do on a day-to-day basis, not just the delivery mode, the any time, any place, any path, any pace mantra isn’t going to change a thing…

Interest-driven learning is now both accessible and required

Mimi Ito says:

There have always been people who are really passionate about their learning and interest-driven, but with the advent of new technology, this kind of learning becomes something that is not only more accessible but also, really, required.

via http://spotlight.macfound.org/featured-stories/entry/qa-mimi-ito-on-connected-learning-for-all

Education in a digital world [VIDEO]

Area Education Agency 267 recorded a number of my thoughts on leadership, learning, and technology one afternoon last fall. The result is a new video, Education in a Digital World. I think it came out extremely well. Happy viewing!

Learning is the formation of connections

At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks. Knowledge, therefore, is not acquired, as though it were a thing. It is not transmitted, as though it were some type of communication.

What we learn, what we know — these are literally the connections we form between neurons as a result of experience. The brain is composed of 100 billion neurons, and these form some 100 trillion connections and it is these connections that constitute everything we know, everything we believe, everything we imagine. And while it is convenient to talk as though knowledge and beliefs are composed of sentences and concepts that we somehow acquire and store, it is more accurate — and pedagogically more useful — to treat learning as the formation of connections.

Stephen Downes via http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html

As a school leader, are you facilitating robust STUDENT connections to other resources, individuals, and networks?

As a school leader, are you facilitating robust EDUCATOR connections to other resources, individuals, and networks?

A Japanese approach to Khan Academy

Got 13 minutes? Watch this video from Michael Pershan. Plain and simple, American math teachers teach differently than Japanese (and other international) math teachers. What would Khan Academy look like if it came from Japan? Well, it would look more like the work that Dan Meyer’s doing

Michael’s video was the winner of the #MTT2K prize. Happy viewing!

Forward tutoring: Educate, volunteer, improve [guest post]

[This is a guest post by Dustin Lewis, a 5th grade teacher at the American International School of Budapest.  Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, he has been teaching internationally for four years, with a previous stop at The Anglo American School in Moscow.  Dustin also works part-time promoting First Tutors, a UK-based tutoring service that specializes in finding the right individual tutors for each student.  In his spare time, Dustin enjoys reading and Asian cuisine.]

Educating the youth in our society falls primarily on school systems and teachers.  In many cases, children don’t receive the specialized and individual attention they need to work through tricky concepts or difficult material.  To combat this, some parents hire private tutors to work with their children.  In this blog post, I will detail a new tutoring concept that will not only help children learn, but will provide them with opportunities to become socially responsible as well.

“Serve while you learn” may be the most fitting tagline to describe the concept of forward tutoring. Forward tutoring is beneficial for both students and the community, as it combines the process of learning with the idea of giving back to those that have helped you.  Students get online help for the subject of their choice while in return, they will participate in community service projects contributing towards the betterment of the community they belong to. The online help offered is, in most cases, as good as classroom coaching except in a personalized one on one setting. The students have access to a number of qualified tutors, in a range of subjects and specialties.  Unlike normal tutoring, however, the payment is not in paper currency, but in the form of community service and volunteer projects.  Forward tutoring combines serving and learning in an innovative way through the use of technology, helping out not just the students, but everyone in the community that this project touches.

Forward Tutoring Removes Financial Barriers to Tutoring: For most children, the school day ends when the bell rings.  Sure, many will go home, do their homework, and study for upcoming exams.  For many children, however, this is simply not enough.  In larger school districts where the teacher to student ratio may not be ideal, most students do not receive the individualized attention required for them to succeed.  In this case, one option for students and parents is to hire an after school tutor.  For many families, however, this just isn’t a realistic possibility due to the expensive nature of the tutoring industry.  Forward tutoring breaks down these financial barriers, and allows any person from any social or economic background access to personalized and specialized tutoring.

Forward Tutoring is Promoting Student Volunteerism: Nothing can match the vigor of youth. Non-profits are always looking for helping hands to work towards various noble causes, but finding professionals from various fields that offer volunteer help is almost impossible to find. Thus, forward tutoring provides the framework for students to take action.  Many times students either want to volunteer, but don’t know of the opportunities, or aren’t aware of the positive social ramifications until they actually help out in the community.  Hence, students go through the dual development by being aware as well as educated. Forward tutoring allows the learners to pay forward the learning in the form of helping non-profits, supporting various kinds of community service.

Online Tutoring is Effective, Efficient, and Rewarding: The best part of forward tutoring is the actual learning that takes place.  Qualified students go through a comprehensive qualification process, where they are given tools and training to support their struggling peers.  These students are learning or have learned the exact same material that many of the learners are struggling with, so it is a perfect match for support.  Countless studies have supported the fact that to peer-to-peer learning is one of the best and most effective ways for a student to learn.  It works even better when the two students are of different ability levels.  Take a look at this study by the National Education Association for more evidence.  The goal of all tutoring is to improve and enhance academic performance in the classroom.  Peer tutoring has proven to be an effective method for facilitating this improvement for the learner and the tutor alike.

Benefits for the Student Tutors: It may seem that forward tutoring is a great way for struggling students to get support and for everyone to get involved in the community effort.  You may ask then, what benefits do the student tutors who give up their free time, without any compensation, receive?  In the short term, the answer is simply volunteer hours and the macro perspective of facilitating a peer’s learning to improve one’s own understanding of the subject matter.  However, if we look at longer term benefits, forward tutoring has teamed with supporting organizations and corporations that will provide internship and scholarship opportunities.

Forward Tutoring is Open for All: This concept is open for all. Since the backdrop is volunteerism, the only drive that is being considered is willingness to come forward and help, while getting educated in return. The forward tutoring project is a novel concept that is imparting a new meaning to internet tutoring and social welfare that is all tied into classroom achievement.  In the end, this project works on the basis of helping others, but consequently many of the students will in fact learn a lot more about themselves.

My Experience:  My experience with forward tutoring has been nothing but positive.  Having children become socially responsible is one of the most important aspects of my job.  Forward tutoring has given me the framework to push children into volunteering who normally would be too shy or unwilling.  Our community has also benefitted greatly.  We have teamed with two large community service projects during the program.  One is a Hungarian version of Walk the Wish and the other is a local dog shelter.  Getting participation in both of these activities is never easy, but forward tutoring makes children extend themselves in ways they never thought possible.  I’ve had several students tell me that they never imagined community service could be so much fun or rewarding.  Children want to do good all they need is a little help and direction.  Let forward tutoring help you and as a result help your entire community.

Forward tutoring is the wave of the future.  It combines technological platforms with the ideals of helping of others and peer to peer education.  Forward tutoring creates a perpetual cycle of learning, volunteering, academic success, and community betterment that will enhance the performance and self-esteem of the children we educate.