I am going to take a slight diversion and dive into “blended learning”. You can find all sorts of google hits on this topic, but the one that most captured my attention was the Khan Academy, specifically his intro video that opens the “Teacher Toolkit“.
Personally, I thought this stuff rocks! I would love to be able to utilize something like this. And without knowing it, I have been migrating my classes at Parkland closer to a blended model (still have a ways to go). There is a lot of Khan says (and other sources like Michael Thompson’s Education Elementals “The Basics of Blended Learning” youtube video [warning: always be careful when clicking on youtube links]) that really excite me because I very much wish I had these opportunities when I was a child. They remind me of Ken Robinson’s speech against our factory-model, date-stamped production of worker bees.
If you are one of those types that wants to pursue “academic achievement”, “academic rigor”, “college prep”, etc, this approach seems to me a very excellent choice. You work on a subject matter until you master it, and you can get the help you need from an instructor who is not bogged down with lectures. Granted, the whole thing is very idealistic, and of course, some educational experts are raising an argument against. My thought is, hey, if it works for some students, why not let them blaze full steam ahead with it.
As a side note, when Michael Thompson speaks of the “Pod” method of blended learning, I immediately thought of two things:
- Pods are essentially the new name for “teaming” as discussed in Dr. Wiegand’s research
- The newly built schools/additions (BTW, Garden Hills, Carrie Busey) all have rooms that are meant to be used as Pods, but with a slightly different meaning.
Again, I am couching this post in the context of fully pursuing a level of “academic achievement” that is measured by a standards-based metric system; Khan Academy seems to fit nicely with NCLB and they are adapting to Common Core as I type. I still maintain, however, that there is an element of human-human interaction and relation that lie outside academic rigor and cannot be measured by tests.
Going to link in my earlier post of “No Child Held Back“, as that is very relevant for this particular conversation.