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View Diary: A partial response to Bill Gates' op ed about teachers (247 comments)

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  •  I find it strange that you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, flitedocnm

    put this comment as a reply to my comment (albeit in agreement with the first commenter) rather than his.

    But whatever..  I think the reality that schools have not gone to standardized e-learning systems for subjects such as math speaks volumes.  Teachers unions or teacher themselves.. what is the difference?  Where is the innovation?  I see none.. in decades.. I see the same old worn out model when technology has surged.

    My original post was in the form of a question because I may be missing innovations going on unseen to me.  No one responded touting e-learning innovations being implemented to reduce costs.  I can only assume no one has bothered.

    So, if you have some evidence to the contrary, I would gladly be proven wrong.

    •  Fair points -- (1+ / 0-)
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      Question Authority

      I indeed should have put this as a reply to R.A., although your response seemed to echo agreement. In any case, I was commenting on the thread.

      As to e-learning tools, I imagine that this is a complex topic. The costs for developing, validating and implementing new hi-tech learning tools I would think are anything but trivial, and in the current environment, even if teachers supported this approach (and I imagine that many likely do -- technology that is well done doesn't compete with teachers, rather it helps them to be more effective), it must be asked if there have been realistic efforts to implement this, especially in the current environment of teaching to tests and slashing everything else? Somehow, I doubt it. Perhaps Teacherken, if he has the chance to read this thread, could comment, as I imagine that he would have a well informed response.

      Notwithstanding, I still find offhanded union bashing here to be in very poor taste.

      "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

      by flitedocnm on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 04:19:24 PM PST

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      •  This is a cost that could be mostly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rick Aucoin

        borne by private industry.  Perhaps the research into most effective methods and/or deloping standards could be a federal expenditure - which I already had assumed was being done. But developing delivery would, I am pretty confident, be gladly done by existing educational book and software providers.

        Once standards are developed, private development of software delivering modules would become very competitive in price and would likely spur creativity in delivery methods.

        Skepticism of teacher's unions is healthy.. question everything.  No entrenched institution that depends on its very existence on the status quo should ever be allowed to go unquestioned.  And questioning motives is not union bashing.. it is simply prudence.

        •  Rosetta Stone software (1+ / 0-)
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          Victor Laslo

          I've learned a great deal of French and Chinese using this software for a comparatively small amount of time sitting at my computer at home. Is a human teacher really superior to such software, or might it be better to cut the human to 1/5 time or something and let the computer teach the course for the rest?

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:58:11 PM PST

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        •  Echoing this. (2+ / 0-)
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          Question Authority, Victor Laslo
          Skepticism of teacher's unions is healthy.. question everything.  No entrenched institution that depends on its very existence on the status quo should ever be allowed to go unquestioned.  And questioning motives is not union bashing.. it is simply prudence.

          There are, frankly, far too many sacred cows on the Left.  WE are supposed to be the side of the political debate that believes in evidence, testing, science.  

          If it might work better, you TRY it.  You test it, you improve it, you test it again.

          You don't dismiss it because it might offend some sacred cow.

          I'm 100% pro-union.  What I am not is 100% naive about human nature.  And unions are a human organization, unless we're talking about the Vulcan Academy Teachers Union,that's different.

          The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

          by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:46:21 PM PST

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      •  I beg to differ. (1+ / 0-)
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        Balto

        I'd like to see some studies on the use of e-learning in public schools.  Information on how many teachers could be reduced from the payrolls and keep the same quality of education going.

        Not because I think we de facto need less teachers.  But neither do a believe that it is a matter of natural law that we need more teachers.

        We need as many as it takes to get the job done.  And the job is assumed to be done with the best, more efficient, tools and processes we can arrange.

        That said, anyone here believe that workers in any field dont' resent and oppose automation that results in the loss of jobs in their field?

        That's not "union bashing".  It's simple reality.  

        I'd fight against some automation that was going to cost me MY job too.

        The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

        by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:43:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  e-learning is good for self-starters (0+ / 0-)

      it is not so useful for kids who are struggling or who are not already digging into the material.

      It is also simply a fact that most schools don't have access to enough technology to make it practical for a large number of students. Computer networks of size require their own full time IT staff to maintain even when your users are carefully selected adults. When you have teens that are perhaps not always benign in their intentions, it's more challenging.

      Buying the computers is an issue, maintaining the computers is an issue, and even in the most mundane needs - computers require a significant ongoing maintenance budget.

      There are schools that can't keep their classrooms supplied with pencils and paper because of money. Now imagine you need to replace $100 laptop batteries every other year for each student.

      E-learning is not really a money saver. What it does do is provide opportunities to deliver more individualized lessons. But, to truly take advantage of those capabilities probably requires more cost and more people than we have now.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:13:07 PM PST

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      •  Depends on the District. (0+ / 0-)
        It is also simply a fact that most schools don't have access to enough technology to make it practical for a large number of students. Computer networks of size require their own full time IT staff to maintain even when your users are carefully selected adults.

        But I know the district my girls go to school in already has a capable IT staff and substantial computer assets in the classrooms.

        You don't have to double the size of the IT staff if you double the # of computers in the classes, either.

        The administration has done virtually nothing designed to reward its partisans. - Kos 8/31/10

        by Rick Aucoin on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:48:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This has been my experience (0+ / 0-)

        I do an online course:  I was an early adopter, by choice.  I'm always willing to try something new.  My students give online courses mixed reviews.  What it does NOT do is save money.  It only really works, for real learning, if there is a real person on the other end who is able to help.  That takes time, often more time than in person instruction.  Institutions also (again, first hand experience) do not want to put the money and time into course design, and re-design, which is what you have to do in order not to have a hunk of junk.

        It can be enriching.  It can provide access to off-campus learners, and I am a big fan of it for working parents especially.  But it is not a magic cost-saving bullet.

        •  For us, a rural district (0+ / 0-)

          it gives our kids, especially the gifted kids, access to classes - including college credit classes through the local community college - that we don't have the resources to offer as standalone courses. We can't run a class with 2 kids who want to learn Mandarin, but we could access an online course and provide support to kids who will put in the time to work it out. (We are getting bandwidth this year through e-rate, so we would be able to handle high quality video feeds, for example.) And similarly, we can give access to advanced mathematics with the support of our math instructor for when they hit a wall.

          But for kids who don't work independently, it is no advantage unless it is short modules with progress being monitored by the in-person teacher.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 11:43:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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