ESSA: Kids get more tech, less teachers
One of my education heroes, Alfie Kohn wrote here about the difference between personal learning and personalized learning:
"Personal learning entails working with each child to create projects of intellectual discovery that reflect his or her unique needs and interests. It requires the presence of a caring teacher who knows each child well.
Personalized learning entails adjusting the difficulty level of prefabricated skills-based exercises based on students' test scores. It requires the purchase of software from one of those companies that can afford full-page ads in Education Week."
|Check out this unbelievable doc showing how ESSA is "better" for "personalized learning" than NCLB.|
Kohn asks, "How can we tell when the lovely idea of personal learning has been co-opted and then twisted into (personalized learning)? Here are four warning signs:
1. The tasks have been personalized for kids, not created by them.
2. Education is about the transmission of bits of information, not the construction of meaning.
3. The main objective is just to raise test scores. (When we hear a phrase like "monitor students' progress," we should immediately ask, "What do you mean by progress?" That word, like achievement, often refers to nothing more than results on dreadful tests.)
4. It's all about the tech. (... for example, in language arts, where millions are made selling leveled "guided reading" systems, skills-based literacy workbooks, and the like. Simpler strategies, such as having kids choose, read, and discuss real books from the library may be more effective, but, as reading expert Dick Allington asks drily, "Who promotes a research-based practice that seems an unlikely profit center? No one.")
Kohn continues, "This version of 'personalized learning' actually began 60 years ago when B.F. Skinner proposed setting each child before a teaching machine, an idea rooted in 'measurability, uniformity, and control of the student.'"
And don't we all know this is the truth:
"If we favor an approach by which students actively construct meaning, an interactive process that involves a deep understanding of ideas and emerges from the interests and questions of the learners themselves, well, then we’d be open to the kinds of technology that truly support this kind of inquiry.
Show me something that helps kids create, design, produce, construct — and I’m on board. Show me something that helps them make things collaboratively (rather than just on their own), and I’m even more interested — although it’s important to keep in mind that meaningful learning never requires technology, so even here we should object whenever we’re told that software (or a device with a screen) is essential.
|Achieve 3000/Teen Biz|
|Read more here.|
"... interest in computer-assisted instruction is surging. New firms, such as DreamBox and Knewton, have joined more established companies like Achieve3000 and Carnegie Learning in providing “intelligent tutors” for 'adaptive instruction' or 'personalized learning.' In the first quarter of 2014, over half a billion dollars was invested in education-technology startups. Not surprisingly, these intelligent tutors have grown fastest in fields in which many problems have well-defined correct answers, such as mathematics and computer science. In domains where student performances are more nuanced, machine-learning algorithms have seen more modest success."
" ... we’re not nearly as good at testing the kinds of things that the labor market increasingly rewards. In 'Dancing with Robots' an excellent paper on contempotary education, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane argue that the pressing challenge of the educational system is to “educate many more young people for the jobs computers cannot do.” Schooling that trains students to efficiently conduct routine tasks is training students for jobs that pay minimum wage—or jobs that simply no longer exist."