Technology is Distraction in Schools


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Ron Packard of K12.com spoke today at an Illinois Policy Institute program today in Chicago.  He thinks technology is a distraction in schools because it in not fully part of the core learning.  A classroom may have a few computers at the back of the room and they become diversions from learning rather than being core parts of the learning.  Further, technology has not produced much efficiency based on the number of adults employed in schools, although he misses the point that new regulations have caused
schools to provide more services.  When every student has a computer along with engaging curriculum and strong assessments, powerful learning can occur, he opines.  Further technology allows students to advance at their own rates because students can spend extra time on subjects.

He started K12 over a dozen years ago when he tried to find high quality math instruction on the Internet to supplement his the first grader’s math instruction.
In the past decade, K12 has grown to about 100,000 students.  He thinks that Chicago is the center of innovation in online learning.  His Chicago Virtual Charter School has about 600 students.  Students attend a school once a week and then learn online at home, with the help of certified teachers who track students’ achievement levels and then provide instructional assistance with video classroom software.
He observes that kids are asked to power down in schools.  When kids have access to powerful technologies at home, school does not look exciting.
Further, he forecasts that within a few years high school elective courses will be offered online.  He thinks this will help eliminate the maximum number of electives a student can take.  He thinks students will have more choice in courses and more opportunities at lower costs.
His catch words are:  Educational liberty, transformation, and open enrollment (across districts).

Packard claims he is not political and his words are the most neutral I’ve heard from the online providers and digital learning proponents. He did not talk about reforming schools, taking on teachers’ unions, or battling special interests, although he recognizes the political forces as he did not realize he would spend most of his work time tacking through the political headwinds.

He cited multiple successes in his schools that I will look at further and outline here in another posting.

His leadoff point was stated well.

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