Our current analog online learning approach during the pandemic is not moving forwards. It’s stuck in the past and quite sad.
Many of us have experienced children or grandchildren going to school on the Internet over the past year. Mostly to negative reviews by parents, teachers and many kids themselves. We experienced a rush to virtual learning as COVID-19 shut down schools and made our lives difficult.
I want to assure folks that what we have been experiencing with analog online learning is NOT what modern distributed or blended learning is supposed to look like. In our rush to these solutions this year, most schools simply tried to move their traditional analog (classroom based) processes onto computers, with limited positive results.
For many years, I have promoted distributed and blended learning, particularly above the lower grades. Distributed learning is a process where kids can access digital learning modules from a variety of sources and customize these to their individual needs. Blended learning is the personalized combination of distributed learning with in-person coaching and mentoring. Neither is what is happening today.
Education is the last major industry to have been re-engineered. You will find that most of the processes and culture of education have been around for 100-150 years. You might want to read my white paper on Transforming Education which took place in Canada 170 years ago. Not much has changed since then.
I recently spent a couple of days helping my grandkids through many “can you hear me now moments”, and then taking pictures of paper assignments to upload to the teacher using Google Classroom. Basically, teachers using Classroom simply try to work the same processes with kids sitting in remote desks.
Analog Online Learning – Time to go Digital
Today, we literally have tens of thousands of teachers distributing exactly the same curricula through tens of thousands of classrooms. We could accomplish the same result with tens of teachers recording digital learning modules for use on the Internet. You would see orders of magnitude cost reductions and increases in teaching quality with distributed learning. Those savings could then be channeled into personalized coaching and mentoring for those kids who need it most.
In other words, we shift the role of teachers from mass regurgitating the same material to actually working with kids individually to inspire learning. If you want to get a glimpse of what I am taking about, check out Khan Academy.