Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Digital learning that doesn't measure up

We have an online curriculum delivery system like nearly every high school I know. It allows students to take courses online by completing modules and progressing through the material at a pace that works for them. We don't typically allow students to take these courses for first attempt credit. Usually, students are in these courses because they have failed a course, or have fallen behind on the path to graduation and need to catch up. In a sense, these programs allow for second chances and for the curriculum to be delivered in a different way than the first go round.

But while these courses serve a purpose as noted, I remain very concerned about this method of learning. When our students take these courses, there is very little interaction with other students in the learning process. For the most part, it's an isolated and passive experience. Students read the material, do some practice activities, and then take quizzes and tests to demonstrate what they've learned. When students take these course during summer school, they spend an entire school day sitting in front of a computer.

For administrative purposes, this type of learning is very neat and tidy and is a convenient way to provide a safety net for students who might be at risk of dropping out of school. But is this really what these students, or any students, need? I don't think this learning experience is going to serve much lasting value for the students, except for the fact that it provides a pathway for completing high school, a worthy goal that will serve them well. That accomplishment alone, even apart from the amount of actual learning, will result in better opportunities for them in their future.

Anyone have a better way at your high school?

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