Digital learning gives educators, parents, and students a chance to do those things Sir Ken Robinson describes in his video. What are supposed to be the benefits of digital learning?
- Set your own schedule, choosing the best times of the day for learning.
- Connect education with the Real World.
- Collaborate with others to create a product that has meaning.
- Get immediate feedback.
- Make choices about courses and even schools, even if they are not physically near you.
- Coursework can be done 24/7.
- Get personalized help from content area certified specialists.
- Enjoy a greater voice through discussion forums and webinars.
- Work on classes anywhere there is an Internet connection.
- Your participation is based on what you do, not how much time you sit in a classroom.
- Be part of a much larger community, sharing ideas with people from across the country and around the world.
- Be exposed to a broader range of teachers and educational resources than a single classroom or school can provide.
- Be prepared for being able to access online education from colleges and other post-secondary schools.
- Follow your interests and talents.
- Reach your full potential because you are not tied down to one program
- Advance as your ability allows, not by your age or grade. This can mean graduating early for some or a little extra time for others.
- Develop skills in divergent thinking and problem solving.
Digital learning - whether that means blended, wholly online, or enhancing face-to-face with technology - begs the question of what school in the 21st Century should look like. States are still stuck on a seat-time model because there is funding involved. How does a state allocate funds? They look at seat-time and standardized testing because these things are measurable and easier to document. States look at job preparation and are influenced by politics and business.
So, what should education look like and how do we decide how to fund our schools? How do we get away from a mentality that sees schools as factories producing future workers for business and industry?
Marion Brady, writing for the Washington Post, has written an excellent article about what the new paradigm should look like. Brady's ideas are well worth a look. We can agree with people like Sir Ken Robinson, but unless we have the courage to accept a new paradigm for education, we will stay in tension - trying to step forward while being unwilling or unable to break away from patterns established in an age and society that no longer exists.