On-line (non)learning

  • NPR reported a few months ago that the Denver Public Schools received $2.5 million from a private company to develop on-line learning programs.
  • NPR reported a few days ago that the graduation rate for new, en vogue, on-line high schools is 22%. The state average is 75%.

Let’s reflect on teenagers: They are human beings. They procrastinate. They get distracted easily, especially when they are around anything with buttons. They crave affection and attention, especially from adult role models. They are social beings. They learn from others, and academic peer pressure is priceless. When they don’t understand something they need someone to explain it because chances are they won’t go to a library and figure it out themselves. They still like getting stickers on their homework when they do a good job.

A computer is not a human being. It caters to people who “learn at their own pace” which means learning for procrastinators grinds to a halt. Computers and television and iPods and iPads and iPhones created ADD, not academically-focused or driven students. Computers may get warm, but they do not hug, place their hand on your shoulder to acknowledge your frustration, and they certainly don’t help facilitate positive peer pressure or human contact. On-line learning isolates kids, leaves them confused, and fails to motivate them. On-line learning places the burden of getting a good education on the students, not on the schools, the teachers, or the state. People like the idea of on-line high schools because they are cheap and people think they understand how “teens today” operate. How about investing $2.5 million into superb teachers who know how teenagers actually operate?