Monday, November 14, 2011

Online Ed and Cash Cow, Suckers!

Two interesting reports out over the weekend.

The first comes to use from PARCC, which stands for something long and deals with assessment for college readiness. They have somehow been tasked with writing the content standards for the Common Core Standards (CCS, or, as I like to say it, "Cash Cow, Suckers!"), and good news! They are done.

I have perused the 98-page document for English, and I can tell you unequivocally that there is absolutely nothing new here. There is no insight into the progression of courses, no earth-shattering revelation about how to motivate learners, nothing. For a brand-new teacher, this document might be helpful in terms of having a baseline idea of skills, but other than that it is just another attempt to wrest dollars for education.

This is disappointing but not unexpected. One of the ways in which education stays "fresh" is the continual re-packaging of the same ideas with new names and acronyms to remember, thus giving the appearance of growth and change. Needless to say, I am not drinking this particular brand of Kool-aid; I find the standards to be simplistic and low and not much changed from the state standards we spent eleventy million dollars writing, assessing and rolling out over six years.

Our second report comes from Evergreen Education Group (EEG) and deals with trends in online learning. Major supporters of EEG include many online learning companies, so the graphics may be a tad biased. Of all the graphics, the thing that strikes most is the continual upward trend in online learning, and the continual underfunding of the programs. This is to be expected, as traditional educational hegemony is threatened by anything smacking vaguely of reform, but the fact is that online ed in its various forms is here to stay, has been proven at least as effective as public school for the majority of participants (but without the bullying, rushing to catch the bus and terrible lunchrooms) and will soon be as ubiquitous as the cell phone (I am thinking of comparing online ed right now to the brick phones in the briefcases of the late 80s with future online ed as a sleeker iPhone). Why not really explore what online ed can be, treating it as a potential solution instead of part of the problem?

Will follow both of these trends as they continue to emerge, one repackaging the old and one attempting to implement the new.

No comments:

Post a Comment