We ran across an article yesterday that forced us to realize what we have known but not admitted for several years now….the potential that online learning offers has not been realized. While there are some interesting and valuable programs being used in a piece meal fashion….none has changed the dynamic in the classroom Why? There are no doubt many reasons. But consider that the classroom today looks much like it did in the industrial era…a group of students with one adult directing instruction. Traditional classroom learning is just not sustainable in a world of rapidly changing information and technology.
Unfortunately, to date, online educational programs are emulating the traditional teaching learning process. There is no one best way….but the technology today offers an opportunity to provide students and those who work with them a world class education no matter the situation. We can communicate with friends and experts around the world; we can use gaming to motivate and engage students; we can capture teachable moments with live video; we can monitor student engagement; we can provide interesting lessons that capture all curricular subjects; we can taylor instruction based on student achievement; we can give students and educators choices for learning and instruction; we can continue to allow educators to create and change online programs for their own classes; we can incorporate audio and video with all learning; we can give students and parents opportunities to create their own learning programs; we can use digital groups and one to one sessions to create community; we can align everything to standards for learning; we can provide instantaneous report results of student learning for parents and educators; we can maintain a level of excellence that demonstrates the potential of technology; and we can overlap and connect activities when needed.
I envision a program that uses all that technology offers to transform the way students learn today. A tapestry of online learning techniques that students can select from and participate in to develop their own instructional program. There is every reason for schools and educators to use the same program. There is nothing new here….all exists….but it is not filtering into education and if it is, the pieces are not connected. Good programs make up the bits and pieces we see in education but they are not changing things for students in the classroom. Teachers still walk around the classroom checking student work, asking for student responses, doling out information….we can do better for our students. We need to supplant not supplement education as we know it.
If we continue to supplement what we have done in the classroom for well over one hundred years, we will continue to lose those students who do not have access to the very best in teaching. If we wish to save education for all students, then major changes must be considered. Technology was to have changed the paradigm. It hasn’t. Now, we must. Traditional classroom learning is just not sustainable in a world of rapidly changing information and technology. We owe it to our students to shirk the trappings of the past and move toward industry standards of technology for teaching and learning.