Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Personalized Learning Is Data Collection And Less Human Contact by Bernie Keller

At a closing school I worked at, I discovered the school was spending $500 per student for an online learning course. At 300-400 students, that’s $150,000-200,000! Now multiply that by all of the schools throughout the city using online learning. The way I count, that’s tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars from a city that claims it is strapped for cash. Not only is online learning not a best practices , tried and true learning method, but in its best case scenario, in order for online learning “to work”, the learner must be disciplined, committed to learning, mature, responsible and motivated –characteristics students, by and large, do not possess, This tells me that online learning is not a wise investment. Not only is it not cost effective, given the people using it, it cannot be successful.

The mayor of New York City says there is no money to hire teachers or school aides. How many teachers would tens of millions of dollars provide? How many books? Paraprofessionals? Social workers? Guidance Counselors?

I really cannot understand the unbridled enthusiasm for online learning. Maybe if it were used as an enrichment to augment what has been taught in class, or as a way to “audit” a class which a student would have passed except for his/her failure to meet the attendance requirement it would make sense, but as it is now, it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

Everybody talks about the 21st century and how we all have to become technologically adept if we are to survive. Think about this for a minute. At a recent professional development session, the facilitator told us that the Smartboard, the piece of equipment no classroom can be without in any school if learning is to take place, that costs between $5,000 and $10,000 each, is now obsolete. It’s one thing to have a $75 book become obsolete after two or three years- a $10,000 piece of equipment becoming obsolete in two to three years doesn’t work for me. Think about it. That means that in order for schools “to work”, to educate our children technologically they’d have to be re-tooled every two years!! Can I make a suggestion? Let’s get books and if and when new information becomes available, let’s use online technology to address that!! Not only will it save millions of dollars, but it will provide information we want the students to have.

Online learning, Smartboards, technology are not panaceas. They will not work just because they are technology, like waving some magic wand. There is no shortcut to learning- the learner still has to invest time, effort, dedication and motivation is success is going to occur. Maybe you know something I don’t know, but I can’t think of any technology that has these characteristics or that can work for any user who is devoid of these characteristics.

Can you?


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