Friday, June 26, 2009

Does Arne Get It?

Digital Education reports on a new report released by US Dept of Ed which suggests that 'blended learning' is more effective than strictly face-to-face or strictly online learning.

Despite the fact that, as Dig Ed notes, little to none of the research looked specifically at K-12 learning, I'm willing to barter that the gist of it is right. 'Blended' or 'Hybrid' learning merging digital and f2f has been my go-to for the last two years and I couldn't imagine running a successful paperless classroom any other way.

But that's not the end of the story.

Because also in the article hangs a bit of low-lying fruit in the form of a response to the report by Arne Duncan:
“This new report reinforces that effective teachers need to incorporate digital content into everyday classes and consider open-source learning management systems, which have proven cost effective in school districts and colleges nationwide.”

Problem is: it doesn't seem like the Secretary of Education has any clue what he's talking about.

Teachers don't need to incorporate 'digital content' into anything. You don't teach 'digital content' in a paperless English class; you teach 'English language and literature content' via digital alternatives to paper. You don't teach 'digital content' in a paperless art history class; you teach the content of art history via digital means.

Via the integration of technology, students learn vital networking, communication, and participatory media skills; but this isn't the content of the course.

If anything, in a fully integrated Web 2.0 classroom, it is the students who are creating 'digital content'.

Furthermore, 'open-source' learning doesn't require any management system. You don't need to spend any money on a management system. Nor do you need to spend any money on textbooks. Rather, just spend your money on smart teachers who are savvy enough to know how to put together the content of an authentic course by compiling open-source materials, creating engaged and vigorous lesson plans, and integrating a sophisticated use of social media tools.

Get it?

[Add 6:40PM - My original title for this post was 'Is Arne Duncan a Luddite?' but I decided to pull that. Because Arne obviously is not a Luddite. It's not that he doesn't like or dislike technology. It's that he doesn't understand what's going on. He just doesn't get it. -- Shelly]

1 comment:

  1. Not only is Arne clueless, but so are most of the teachers. Most of the teachers have not been learning technology during the past 10 years. They haven't moved along as our culture has adopted new tech tools. So now, they are so far behind, they don't know where to start to catch up.

    I've seen it so many times -- simple things like downloading a file or burning a CD are nearly impossible, much less using a class blog or wiki!

    I'm not trying to be cruel to teachers, but I'm saying this is the reality of where we are. And if we are going to change the face of teaching and move into a digital classroom, we need individual teachers to push and to demand access to tech tools. You're right -- "saavy tachers" -- that's what we need.

    We must find a way to show teachers how these tools are natural ways to teach content, not interruptions or gimmicks.


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