A Glimpse at Tech & Edu in the News

Each week I get an update on education news in Minnesota (and beyond – this week mostly beyond) through a weekly email from Twin Cities Daily Planet. This last week I happened to notice that most of the stories involve technology. So with permission of TCDP I am reposting their bibliography – with a little extra annotation from me.

Both of the above showcase Coursera – a fantastic program I actually learned about at the TED conference last month. They are posting top classes from top universities online for free. It has leveled the playing field for access to education. But there are questions about what impact that will have on paying students. (Free classes do not qualify students for a degree.) I think this is an opportunity for some of the greatest education minds to figure out how to really make online education work. I’ve been reading more and more articles questioning the quality of online education and I think there is probably some reason for concern – but I think that was probably true of blackboard back in its day too. We just need an opportunity like this to take the time to learn how to make the most of it.

The birth of Udacity, an online learning program for folks interested in technology. It includes a lot of videos by instructors and a rigorous classroom assignment schedule. Currently has 11 classes available for free.

The National Education Policy Center recently released a report on K12 Inc – the largest online, for-profit learning provider. The results are not stellar. To quote from Education week…

Among the key conclusions of that analysis is that students in virtual schools run by K12 are performing worse academically and dropping out of courses at much higher rates than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

I was a little surprised to read about the demographics they are serving (from the NEPC report)…

Students in K12 schools are more likely to be white and less likely to be Hispanic relative to comparison states. They are also less likely to be low-income and much less likely to be classified as English language learners. In recent years, K12 is increasingly serving more students with disabilities and students it classifies as at-risk, but it still spends relatively little for special education instruction and student support services. Students in schools operated by K12 Inc. and other virtual schools are also more prone to attrition.

Apparently there are online classes (Credit recovery) you can take now to make up for classes you failed. Sounds like there are fill in the blank sort of exams and that kids are using Google to fill in those blanks. Shocker! The problem of course is that people will sometimes take the path of least resistance. So kids do use Google. And then they “pass” their class – but learn little. The schools’ graduation rates however are improving. So you can see the slippery slope.

This entry was posted in Broadband Applications, education by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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