Thursday, January 05, 2012

teachers fear inevitable disintermediation...,

NYTimes | Matt Richtel writes in Wednesday’s New York Times about the conflict over Idaho’s plan to require students to take online courses and to issue them laptops or tablets. While teachers say they are in favor of using technology in the classroom, they would prefer to use it on their own terms, and they are skeptical of the educational value of online courses. They note that the state may have to shift money away from teacher salaries to pay for these programs.
State officials say teachers had been misled by their union into believing the plan was a step toward replacing them with computers. “The role of the teacher definitely does change in the 21st century. There’s no doubt,” said Tom Luna, the schools superintendent. “The teacher does become the guide and the coach and the educator in the room helping students to move at their own pace.”

Readers are weighing in on the article, with many questioning the push to stock classrooms with digital devices. “Teachers love using technology when it works and is organically the best way to convey content, assess mastery or engage students in an honest fashion,” writes Daniel Rosen of Teaneck. “But we don’t like it when it becomes its own end instead of a means.”

Cstrebel of Camden offers a different perspective on online courses: “Having a master teacher at the helm and teachers in the classroom to guide students is a fine idea. Education such as this would offer the students a wide range of subjects taught by experts that they could not get in their local schools.”

The article is part of The Times’s series on educational technology, Grading the Digital School. Teachers and others debated the merits of such technology in an accompanying dialogue on Room for Debate.