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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Another Potential POSITIVE Covid 19 By Product: Broadband Deemed a Public Utility

April 6, 2020 Leave a comment

Jeremy Mohler’s recent post on the In The Public Interest blog includes this paragraph:

The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed what’s long been true: High-speed internet is a public good. It enables education, healthcare, public safety, civic participation, economic growth, and much more. It connects our communities, the nation, and beyond. And, in times like these, it keeps us close to friends and loved ones.

And yet our country charges the among the highest fees for this service in the world and because of that roughly 1/3 of our citizens don’t have access to broadband, a reality that especially impacts low-income, black, and Latino communities. There IS hope that high speed internet might be declared as national necessity. Both the Democratic party and the Republican party are seeking another stimulus, and both are talking about a stimulus to “improve infrastructure”. This COULD be an opportunity for those who see internet access as a civil rights issue to make our voices heard. One thing is certain: as the legislation is developed the telecom industry will do so.

Heartwarming Essay on Value of Public Schools Overlooks One Reality: Economic and Racial Homogeneity STILL Prevails

March 29, 2020 Leave a comment

A few days ago I received a heartwarming essay on the value of public schools written by Donald Cohen titled “COVID-19 is Putting the Value of Public Education on Display“, an article that made many of the same points I described in an earlier blog post that I honed into an op ed piece that was published yesterday in our local newspaper. In the essay, like my post, Mr. Cohen points out all of the services public schools provide above and beyond instruction on the basic skills. But I believe he overstates one of the qualities provided by public education in reality (as opposed to in theory):

But perhaps most importantly, public schools provide kids with the opportunity to learn alongside their peers. Schools are where the community comes together to learn and grow regardless of skin color, income level, sexual orientation, or any other difference.

I desperately wish this were so and (probably incorrectly) believe it was the case in the small college town where I attended high school in the early 1960s. I DO believe ALL public schools aspire to being a place where their “…community comes together to learn and grow regardless of skin color, income level, sexual orientation, or any other difference”… but I also know that fewer and fewer communities posses economic or racial heterogeneity and, therefore, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for children to experience the opportunity to be with children of different skin colors, income levels, or nationalities. I also sense (and fear) that too many students in our country encounter different treatment based on their gender and/or their sexual orientation and that changing those behaviors will take decades.

Looking forward, I hope that public schools will break down the artificial boundaries that have the effect of isolating students based on their race and income, for if that were the case I believe there would be far more empathy that we experience in our society at large today. MAYBE our on-line encounters based on current school boundaries could be intentionally re-designed so that groups of students from the heartland could meet groups of students from the coast… and groups of students of different races could interact with each other to discuss common issues… and students of different economic backgrounds could interact with each other. MAYBE we could find a way to use our technology to bring students from disparate groups together in virtual classrooms to engage in dialogues about their experiences during the lock down. if we did so, I think we would find that we have more in common with each other than we now believe.

In a District with No Broadband a 10 Year old Xerox Machine Works Overtime

March 28, 2020 Leave a comment

Homeschooling Vs. Unschooling Explained

March 27, 2020 Leave a comment

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This article provides a good overview of the difference between homeschooling and unschooling noting that those who adopt the former are required to effectively replicate the traditional schooling model at home while the latter tend to allow their child’s interest to determine how, when, and where learning takes place.

Another Positive Outcome of Covid 19 Outbreak: Internet Inequality in the Limelight

March 24, 2020 Comments off

Over the past several days i’ve read countless articles on the impact of internet access inequities on student learning during the time interval when schools are closed. One of the best articles is an interview with MIT’s Justin Reich by Sarah Kleiner of the Center for Public Integrity titled “Yawning Gaps in Learning Expected During Pandemic“.  The reason for these gaps is explained in the Mr. Reich’s response to Ms. Kleiner’s first question, which was whether schools were prepared for this shift:

Schools use all kinds of technology to varying degrees, but the technologies to support in-class learning only partially overlap with the technologies needed to support distance learning. But certainly our schools, especially urban and rural schools, are dreadfully underfunded, and that insufficient investment will be increasingly revealed in the weeks ahead. Schools were not only unready in the sense of not having enough technology, but unready in the sense of having been woefully underfunded at least since the growth of 1970s era anti-government, austerity policies.

The greatest gap will be in K-12 education, where parents play a key role in educating the child even if the child’s education is on-line. Ms. Reich notes that the parents who will suffer most are those who will be laid off from work who will be under severe stress and looking desperately for some means to provide food, clothing ad shelter for their children. Those parents will be hard pressed to serve as the “coach and teacher” an online learner requires at home, for that is an essential element for success:

Most K-12 virtual schools are what we might call “coached homeschooling.” They depend upon a full-time parent as a coach and teacher. There is no viable model for elementary schools to provide remote instruction without every child having a parent, sibling or other guardian to instruct, assess and coach them.

In most cases, affluent parents have the wherewithal to provide that kind of support and to have the online tools available in their houses. Children of hourly employees are not so fortunate.

Reich… points out that internet access is a scarce commodity for many Americans. Just 56 percent of adults in households earning below $30,000 have broadband internet at home, and about 17 percent of adults access the internet at home through a smartphone only.

And so… as always seems to be the case, the rich get richer and the poor fall further behind. MAYBE the widening technology disparity will become clearer and get the attention it deserves.

We’re Witnessing a Huge Experiment that is Doomed to Fail

March 17, 2020 1 comment

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This Forbes article provided studies to support the flowing two facts about online learning:

It doesn’t work and it requires LOTS of parental oversight, oversight that will be lacking and fruitless even if it is present.

Some Positive Consequences of Covid 19: SATs and State Standardized Tests Cancelled

March 17, 2020 Comments off

CNN reported today that the College Board announced it is cancelling the May administration of the SAT and that the ACT, which also administers college placement exams in the US, announced similar measures regarding its April test. This won’t necessarily mean the end of the use of SATs and ACTs as screening for college entry, but if students are unable to take the tests and report their scores to colleges it might accelerate the movement away from their widespread us.

And SATs are not the only standardized tests to go by the boards. Both Texas and Washington State announced that they were cancelling the administration of their standardized tests. And Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post suggests that more cancellations of tests may be in the offing:

At least 33 states and the District have closed schools, many in the middle of spring standardized testing season. States use the results for different purposes, including to meet a federal testing mandate designed to assess how schools are helping students learn. There are other tests, too, including for high school graduation, third-grade retention and school voucher eligibility.

As with the SATs and ACTs, this won’t necessarily mean the end of the use of these tests for “…high school graduation, third-grade retention and school voucher eligibility” forever… but it will allow legislators to pause and MAYBE hit the reset button on their use.