Sunday, September 16, 2012

Student outcomes: Shifting focus

The second topic of the Virtual Schooling MOOC focuses on the history of distance learning. It is very interesting to see that the history of distance learning goes back many years – early 1700’s – and that increasing access to education has been one of its major purposes. This second topic ends with this activity:

On your blog, post an entry where you:
1. Make a case either that K-12 online learning must achieve (a) equivalent student outcomes or (b) improved student outcomes, to justify its use in expanding access to curricula or providing educational choices.

If we look at K-12 online learning as a way to expand educational access to curricula, it is like saying that it is an alternative to face to face teaching and learning and therefore we expect it to result in equivalent student outcomes. However, K-12 online learning implementation in classrooms across the world has shown that it is an option that does not only provide an alternative way to achieve the same outcomes we can achieve with face to face teaching, but a way to achieve different outcomes.

ICT and the www have transformed key aspects of our society and it is also pushing for educational change (McLeod, 2011). Students have to be prepared for a world that we don’t know how it will be. That is why collaboration, independent and lifelong learning, reflective thinking are important skills that students need to develop today more than ever. Online education has the potential to encourage the development of these skills if implemented effectively. 

I don’t think that with online education we can achieve better results – we can achieve different results. That is why with reference to the use of online education the focus should be on improved outcomes, but in terms of quality, rather than quantity. This requires a big shift in our ideas about education, knowledge (Gilbert, 2007) and what matters as student outcomes.

Gilbert, J. (2007). Knowledge, the disciplines and learning in the digital age. Journal of Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 6(2), 115-122.
McLeod, S. (2011). Two big shifts and one big problem: The growing disconnects between schools and our digital global society. Keynote at the Learning@School 2011 conference, Rotorua, New Zealand.

1 comment:

  1. I like your take on the outcomes being different in quality. There has to be something that is different, or why whould anyone want to spend the extra money it takes for the technology. You also stated that the future is somewhat uncertain. I agree with this, and all of the skills you mentioned that we need in order to be successful in the uncertain future.