Sunday, June 30, 2013

E-learning is coming of age!

I quote from a good article in The Economist on the spread of new technology in U.S. schools:
Adoption of education technology in America’s state-funded schools was given a boost by a requirement to measure pupil performance in the No Child Left Behind Act, signed by George W. Bush. Online learning was first picked up in some surprising places, including rural Idaho, where schools were looking for ways to expand the limited curriculums they were able to offer. Barack Obama’s Race to the Top initiative gave a further shove, making billions of dollars available to states willing to innovate. At the beginning of June his administration announced a plan to give 99% of America’s students access to high-speed internet within five years........ 
The Department of Education spent four years evaluating literacy programs; it concluded that Read 180, a program to help students who have fallen behind in reading, was good at combating adult illiteracy. A randomised control trial of Cognitive Tutor, which helps teachers identify weaknesses and strengths in maths, among 400 15-year-olds in Oklahoma found that children using the program reached the same level of proficiency as the control group in 12% less time. 
Meanwhile, the Khan Academy, a creator of online tutorials widely used as a form of home tutoring, is beginning to provide hard evidence for why it is considered one of edtech’s rising stars. At Oakland Unity, in tough inner-city Oakland, test scores for 16-17-year-olds in algebra and geometry have risen significantly in the two years since Khan courses were introduced........ 
According to GSV Advisors, a consultancy, investment in edtech soared to $1.1 billion in 2012. The Education Innovation Summit held in Scottsdale in April was crawling with would-be investors; presentations from new companies were packed. Investment in the education sector in 2011 was almost as high in nominal terms as the peak, and was higher in terms of volume 
As I teach now (at the graduate level) the classroom is wired with its own computer; students have laptops, and some use smart phones to photograph the blackboard. Guest lecturers use power point or other presentation software. The course is supported by Blackboard, with discussions and presentations uploaded. Some readings are just taken from the Internet and some are on Blackboard in e-Book format (taking advantage of the "long tail" to reach out of print materials). Videos are shown. Students all have computers, and submit papers in electronic form. 20 or 25 years ago that would not have been conceivable. 

No comments: