Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Changing How We Think About School

What my school is doing is trying to replicate the brick-and-mortar model in the online world. Other schools are doing something more like “correspondence school” We fall back on old models at times like this when the world is turned sideways.I’m getting all sorts of ideas about what I would like in a remote lecture tool as well as what I would like for other interactions. But as someone pointed out to me, we are trying to replicate the brick-and-mortar model in the online world and that may not be the best way to teach online.

Peli de Halleux, creator of MakeCode at Microsoft, asked me “Why replicate the brick-and-mortar model in the online world? Isn’t there opportunities to improve things are taught (and not just make it worse)?”

It’s a really great question. The problem right now is that we are scrambling. Doing things right, I mean really right, takes time and planning and knowledge that most educators don’t have. in a real way we are making it up as we go along. Are we learning? We sure are. Is there enough sharing of what we are learning? I think not.

There is some for sure. Educational Twitter and Facebook are humming. There is some blogging for sure. I suspect that most teachers who read blogs (not enough read and far too few write blog) are siloed in their reading. I know I mostly follow CS educators. I hope someone is studying all this though.

We don’t know enough about online teaching. What we are doing is not a MOOC which is good because MOOCs have a poor record. It is something very different.

Mark Guzdial wrote So much to learn about emergency remote teaching, but so little to claim about online learning which addresses some of the issues around using the present time for research. This is far from a well-thought out scientific experiment as you can get.

That doesn’t mean it is a bad time to try things though. In fact, out of necessity we have to try things. Chris Lehmann, founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, has been blogging about his and his schools experiences and wrote today about Teaching Without Compulsory School. In many school districts school has more or less become voluntary. How do you manage in that environment were as one spoof I saw on Facebook said “welcome to my online classroom where the due dates are made up and the grades don’t matter?”

Most teachers are not all that entertaining. There is no way I can make a video that will keep a student’s attention for more than 10 minutes. I can hope for 5 minutes but 10 is optimistic. Sure students will watch a movie for 90 minutes but who has $100,000,000 dollars to make a couple of 60 minute classes?

Most of us need some degree of compulsion. Students don’t always, often?, see the value of what school is trying to teach them. oh well. Maybe I should take a nap. I stayed awake most of the night worrying about this stuff.

1 comment:

Garth said...

There are a lot of firsts going on here.
1.Zoom. It works but lacks "feel".
2. Digital textbook. I like to put sticky notes in my textbooks and write in them. Does not work so well digitally. Scrolling through a digital text is no where near as convenient as thumbing through a paper text.
3. Doing problems on the board to explain things. I have ordered a graphics tablet I can connect to my computer so I can do math on the "board". Should arrive tomorrow. We will see. 4. Multiple monitors. Required. Luckily i knew that from my IT job. I have 2 monitors hooked into my tower and a laptop next to them so I am running 3 monitors in a sense. The laptop is just for email and calendar.
5. A digital calendar that tracks when a Google Classroom assignment is going to post and when it is due. Google Classroom is supposed to link with Google Calendar to take care of this. It does not seem to work.
6. Google Classroom. A life saver but it is free. Lots of weird issues that I would not tolerate in a commercial product.

We have had a week to get this up and running and now we are just trying to keep up. Getting ahead of the tsunami might happen but not soon.