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The Sky Has Limits

January 23, 2012 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at 07:39 AM

The Society for Quality Education is pleased to announce the publication of The Sky Has Limits:  Online Learning in K-12 Public Education in Canada, a review of virtual education. The report is authored by respected educator Dr. Paul Bennett, Principal of Schoolhouse Consulting.

As students become more cyber-savvy and Apple proposes i-books to replace textbooks, online learning has fantastic potential to attract and retain learners, but there are challenges.  Dr. Bennett found:

In spite of the tremendous advantages afforded by introducing online learning programs, significant barriers stand in the way of its natural growth and expansion. With the exception of British Columbia, the spread of online learning and virtual schools has stalled and, for the vast majority of Canada’s 5 million K to 12 public school students, the sky has limits.”

The report’s findings dispute those of other Canadian studies of how the teaching profession views virtual education: “Most provincial teacher unions show tepid support for online learning, holding fast to labour contract agreements which effectively limit online learning to a supplemental role in the K-12 public system.”

Other key findings:

·         After enjoying an initial advantage, Canada has been overtaken by the United States in the rate of growth of online learning over the past two years.

·         There is potential for governments to save money outside of traditional “bricks and mortar” schooling.

·         Private provision of e-learning is becoming more innovative and is growing rapidly.

The full report can be found at: or on our Reports and Research page.

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read the report and while it seems to represent the
state of the nation
when it comes to computer use

there is no data on
learning / achievement

What I have seen elsewhere is fragmentary and sometimes suspect if presented by people with a vested interest in pushing tech.

As a tech fan and one who thinks tech always changes things, I wish change for the better.

As an historian I am trained to ber a little cautious. After all, B.F. Skinner’s teaching machines
and education TV did not result in a learning revolution.

Posted by John Myers on 01/23 at 10:53 AM

Sitting on the fence John?

“That research supports policy initiatives directed more at ameliorating social inequities and promoting computer access in distant communities than on generating prosperity and unleashing the potential of learning technologies. 52
Teacher unions wield considerable influence in shaping Canadian online technology policy, as in most areas of educational policy-making. Most provincial teacher unions show tepid support for online learning, holding fast to labour contract agreements which effectively limit online learning to a supplemental role in the K-12 public system.”

Both are getting in the way of serious changes for e-learning to occur. Even in this day and age, public education systems still have much difficulty to provide alternative e-format material for students with disabilities.

As for the law, “AODA?s goal ?is to make Ontario the first barrier-free state in the world for people with disabilities,? McCloskey said. By 2011, all public organizations (including educational) must accommodate people with disabilities by providing published material in requested formats, in a timely fashion. “

A timely fashion are the key words, and timely is not a word that would described the present public education system, where students needs are fitted in among the various agendas of the union contracts, budget constraints and the blame makers within the education system.

For e-learning, more like providing students with or with a disability, the exact experience as in the classroom. Has anyone wonders why, there is little data on student achievement on e-learning provided by the public education system?  I don’t, not when e-learning is constrictive, and confined within a framework of of what works best for the major stakeholders.

There is two parts to e-learning, the technology and the learning experience. My 16 year old is a product of e-learning of the American version, learning at home, starting in grade 5. 24-7 access, as well as access to multiple grades. I sometimes wonder why I was sending her to school, because most of her learning took place at home, and not in the classroom. How many other students are like my child, sitting in a classroom not learning, and pretending to be engaged? How many students are making steady progress climbing out of the 50 average doldrums?  How many students cannot, because of weaknesses in the foundation of the 3 Rs?

Now how many people within the education system have a vested interest in keeping students from learning, other than the classroom experience?

Plenty in my eyes.

A common question among the stakeholders - “Is distributed learning an appropriate form of education for students with special needs? That was a central question posed in a workshop facilitated by David Comrie at the BCTF Equity and Inclusion conference. Comrie is the president of the BCTF Educators for Distributed Learning PSA.”

As well as for the common disabilities such as dyslexia, What is even more amazing, a lot of the e-learning that hails from the public education system for students with learning struggles, is the dumb-down versions of the identical type found in classrooms. At least the private concerns such as Virtual High School, will use the technology to benefit students who are struggling, by providing lessons that are adapted to the student’s learning needs.

“A school that fits the student rather than forcing the student to fit the school,? Principal Steve Baker”

The public education e-learning in most provinces still insists to force the students to adapt, rather than the education system to adapt to their students needs.

Posted by Nancy on 01/23 at 02:07 PM

Textbooks on ipads is a great idea in theory but I don’t know how we get past the SES problem unless the board supplies the ipads. It might be cheaper but DVD needed not the internet. Can’t force families to have internet at home.

Textbooks can be much more interactive and may have video not just photos. They could be updated quickly as well.

Of course unions insist on union rules regarding virtual schools. Duh.

The cat ate my homework might become ” I lost power, I forgot to save” .

Posted by Doug on 01/23 at 04:15 PM

Not sitting on the fence, Nancy

Rather whatever my inclinations based on more than 3 decades doing tech, not convinced it is as +ve a thing as is often promoted to be.

Will it work in some circumstances? Sure, many things do that.

Is it worth the $$$? I await more evidence and Paul’s report does not provide that, however use3ful it is on revealing the field.

Posted by john myers on 01/23 at 05:05 PM

Doug, John - Are not your last posts the typical excuses used by those within the system, to prevent more use of technology and e-learning.

Money is wasted, as well as the advantages of e-learning become moot, when insisting on class caps of 30 or less, time restrictions, and lessons just like in the classroom.

Was on the new Ontario help math site. What a treat to see fuzzy math in action, done just like in the classroom. The tutorial sessions are 30 to 40 minutes long of mind-numbing, turn-off sessions. The video part, but I did not enter the actual tutorial sessions with teachers. How many students will used it? I can predict not many, because there is far superior sites not of the public education kind, as well as engaging the students. Khan Academy to the rescue?  If a student is going online to get some help in math, they are more interested in telling them how to do it, which in turn elicits understanding of the concept, and than they can do the homework problems. Novel concept, and rare when it comes to e-learning and technology in school.

Doug, home internet connection can no longer be used as an excuse, like it was in the late 90s. It should not used as the excuse, because some students cannot access it. The provincial governments as well as the federal government has played their roles in finding ways not to build the infrastructure for the internet. A couple of weeks ago, I was on a site, looking at the vast empty space in Ontario and Quebec where the fast speed internet, as well as the new G4 cellular networks do not exist. Little old NL, is covered with a few empty spots that are really remote. If Ontario and Quebec keeps waiting for the big guys to build it, it will never be built.

As for i-pad and other tablets, as well as all the other devices, Ontario students will be sitting with DVDs, while the rest of country, the students will be on cloud networks. Build the infrastructure, and the parents will purchase the gear, if they have not done so. As for the kids, who truly cannot avail, than the school boards should offer them the gear or at much reduced prices, like NL does.

Rather amusing, a rural Alberta school board will be offering free wireless on the long bus journeys. That is still a fantasy in Ontario, and probably be a reality in NL in another 3 years or so. I received an e-reader that does everything except make a phone call. I became addicted to it, and now I would not know how I could live without it. Timing was prefect, because I can now access the free e-reading material on the public library site. No more late fees.

Now, when will the public education system get their act together and offer to all students e-formatted material, as well as e-text books.Hard copies could still be given out for home and school use if so desired by the students.

Posted by Nancy on 01/23 at 06:56 PM

“Tech pushers” official agents of the tech industry have been trying for many years to ‘force feed’ technology into the schools. This does not make it bad but we need to be sceptics of each new innovation.

As John has pointed out, radio would revolutionize eduction, (didn’t happen) TV will revolutionize education (didn’t happen) computers will revolutionize education, (a bit), the internet will revolutionize education, (it is very important but lets wait and see).

If many jurisdictions did not DEMAND that students take one on-line course, the growth would be very slow. So far the results from the students have not been very encouraging but lets give it time.

Posted by Doug on 01/23 at 07:11 PM

my post is an “excuse” for resistance?

I cite history and evidence and only say
let’s be cautious and check this stuff out.

A number of tech people
- Edward Landower
- Jamie Mackenzie
- Kim Vincente
to name but three
(I could include myself as my own experience is
considerable and varied over 30 years)

say we need to evaluate the effects


Posted by John Myers on 01/23 at 09:35 PM

“Doug, John - Are not your last posts the typical excuses used by those within the system, to prevent more use of technology and e-learning.”

please read the posts carefully
and Doug’s response also notes the chequered history of the impact of tech on schools

more evidence
less belief in magical solutions

I speak as a tech fan
who has actually worked in rural BC where there are wired schools doing good things.

Wiring century old building as there are in many urban centres costs money that is in short supply.

I had hoped that blogs would be
“no spin zones”.
I have been sadly mistaken.

Posted by John Myers on 01/24 at 08:04 AM

From the responses, the discussion appears to indicate that some readers may have not really read the report.  It’s not really about computer use in schools, which it touches on, but about online virtual schooling.  They are two entirely different things. 

SQE has a position on computers, smart boards, etc.  in schools. They are amazing tools, but don’t replace the fundamentals of good teaching.

Virtual schooling is about the delivery of education on a broader scale.  It’s a complete change of how we think of the traditional neighborhood school.  Heck, post secondary institutions have been doing this for ages. from Australian outback school by radio, Athabasca University,  MBA programs, Khan Academy, and now Virtual High School Ontario….It’s not a new concept, it’s just the delivery method is the internet with the ability to reach around the globe. 

I think Dr. Bennett’s subtle suggestion is that private innovators will take up the slack and meet demand, and the status quo will try to block public delivery—perhaps to their detriment?  Will that 5th year victory lap become obsolete if the province requires it online, for instance, especially in times of government cutbacks?  Just a thought.

Posted by doretta on 01/24 at 08:44 AM

For those of us who read the report, we get it Doretta.

Dr. Bennett is dead on in his suggestions.  It’s already possible in our local high school to take a victory lap on-line. Has been for a while now. Has it stemmed the popularity of the Virtual High School? Not in the least.

VHS is moving to a larger location and expanding curriculum to include elementary subjects.

It wouldn’t be doing this well if it didn’t churn out well-educated graduates.

Posted by Chuck on 01/24 at 09:14 AM

Virtual schools need to go through a process of trial and error until they find their niche in the school system, public or private.

There are those who want to hot house the process to circumvent unions and bureaucrats in their mind but their is little money for this.

To keep the tech industry sweet, many juristictions force students to take one on-line course. Why? Because without it, there is very little interest amongst students in on=line courses.

The academic results have not been good. I suspect this is a little unfair because many “marginal” students are the ones taking the couse because they are suspended, or “have difficulty making it to school”. This will drag down the results.

I looked at the Khan Academy history lessons, nothing special. our math teacher looked at the math lessons. Nothing special that teachers don’t do every day.

Technology has been overhyped and oversold every time it has emerged. To avoid “white elephants” we need to proceed but with caution.

With the SES issue, I maintain that the school system needs to supply 100% of he softwre and hardware and internet service needed.

I recall a history teacher pal who “assigned” a TV show to be watched at home + questions to his class. The next day the principal called him in. He had received 2 calls. One was from a family too poor for a TV and the other from a middle class family that ‘chose not to have’ TV in their home.

Both demanded no more asignments based on TV at home. The principal sided with the parents. School actually works like this. You cannot base your curriculum on materials you do not supply.

Posted by Doug on 01/24 at 09:54 AM

E-learning represents the opportunity to provide customized instruction to the individual students, that are in keeping with the student’s ability and skills.

For students with large gaps in their knowledge, it is a game changer for students, as well as changing the landscape of traditional delivery of education in the classroom.

Yesterday afternoon, my 16 year old reach out to the provincial long distance education site, to provide mini-tutoring lessons in physics, as well as a comprehensive list of what is needed to know for the mid-term. It reduce her long list of questions down to 3, and at the present time is at a school tutorial this morning to set her straight on her 3 questions. She was thankful and please that it was available to her, and thought of the government being a nice guy to provide for students who are not studying physics online.

Without e-learning, and the advantages that go with e-learning, the difference is in the final grades for my 16 year old. With it a grade of 80 something, and without it, a grade of 70 something or below.

Yesterday, I was contemplating of spending money to subscribe to a site that provides physics tutoring, because I knew my 16 year old had gaps in her physics knowledge, because the original physics teacher is on sick leave, and after exams the class will be on number 4 teacher, who will come with their own teaching style and approaches. Thankfully, the e-learning that the government provides, filled in most of the gaps, and my 16 year old, feels confident that she will do well in the mid-term.

A benefit of e-learning, it is always there using the same instruction styles and approaches, compared to the unforeseen circumstance of a teacher on sick leave, and the parade of teachers commences in rural schools.

Posted by Nancy on 01/24 at 10:31 AM

Virtual Schooling adds variety to choice options, and fills a void that’s obviously filling a demand.

I wonder what would have happened to the public school system if the customer were the consideration and customer service were a key driver in reform rather than keeping the unions and bureaucrats happy?

Posted by Chuck on 01/24 at 11:06 AM

If it fills a void, why do so few peopl want to use it? Kids complain to guidance that they don’t like the isolation.

Posted by Doug on 01/24 at 12:19 PM

A fantasy to be sure, if the customer was considered first. A kid like mine would benefit from a multi-approached in instruction starting in grade 1, as would a great many other students, if not all. My child’s education potential was put at great risk due to the agendas and best interests within the education system.

Posted by Nancy on 01/24 at 12:22 PM

Doug, when students are force to use technology and software as dictated by the education policies, that does not allow the software and technology to adapt to the student’s learning needs, most people want no part of it. Engagement of students does not take place when teaching practices in the classroom and online are not adaptable to the individual students’ learning needs.

For students who do complained about the isolation concerning online instruction, are students who are not comfortable with self-paced learning, and preferred the classroom. Throw in the rigid format and design of the online learning, with built-in rules such as every student must asked a question, and if not, is kicked off the session. One of the reasons why my child will not take advantage of online learning that is offered by the public education system, is that sitting in a classroom, no one gets kicked out of class for not asking questions. The option of e-learning provided by the public education system, is an option of the last resort for rural students, rather than an option of equal value to take advantage of the benefits derived from technology, that a classroom cannot do in the best of the circumstances. Namely, the customization for the individual student’s learning needs.

Posted by Nancy on 01/24 at 02:10 PM

Fastest growing education to be had is virtual education.

Sorry Doug. People do want it and that trend is going to continue.

See, that’s why the public system got into the virtual game…to compete because they too saw the writing on the wall. Look closer….you will see it too.

Posted by Chuck on 01/24 at 02:52 PM

Michael Barbour, one of the significant researchers into online learning, cites that “up until last yeat the South Shore Regional School Board did manage it’s own K-12 online learning program. Beginning this year all those services have been centralized into the department of Education so that they can be managed on a provincial level - as opposed to a regional or district level.”

Is this a recipe for more poor management of programs and regional favouratism by the DOE?

Could this enhance more centralization and school closures instead of fostering equal access to online programs for geographically disadvantages schools as online learning has been described?

Posted by Steven on 01/24 at 03:42 PM

From my e-mail box, from former or current teachers, is a new math site for parents and schools to take advantage of.

“I developed Karismath to help a population of school-going children who are underachieving, or chronically failing Math. This happens to be over 75% of the global population. I developed Karismath after I realised that it is not the learners who are failing Mathematics, but Mathematics?and the way it is taught?that is failing the children. They needed a new start, a fresh new break away from the old ways. I think Karismath offers them this opportunity.”

Further down, “Which other maths program do you admire? Why?
I like what Sal Khan is doing with the Khan Academy Math. I admire it because he is doing exactly what I was doing 30 years ago: teaching exactly the same way. So I could be accused of admiring him for really very ego-centric reasons. But his over-million-user success has doused water on a lot of the fancy bells-and-whistles hi-techie-talk approach to Mathematics Teaching programs and efforts. I admire his Math because it is his content that is so compelling, so simple and inviting. He makes what feels hard, feel easy. I think any program that does that deserves admiration.”

The advantage on online learning, is making things that are hard, look easy. Karismath created by a Canadian,

“What new-generation educational programs in Math should offer is pedagogy-embedding i.e. teaching and learning tools embedded within the courseware that actually do the Math teaching with minimal teacher-parent intervention. Such courseware frees the most important ally (teacher or parent) to switch gears: i.e. personalize and customize Math education for differentiated learning. Learners recognize and experience personalization as a form of customization of the learning environment in which they feel better understood by their closest allies. Fostering such teacher-learner congruency probably serves the most important goal of differentiated learning. New-generation Math courseware would do well to reconfigure the traditional teacher?s role: while the teaching tools within the courseware do the teaching, the teacher is liberated to do all the differentiating in learning.”

Does the current e-learning being provided by the various Canadian public education system offers the freedom of customization?  Not in my opinion, nor in the minds of some of the former teachers or teachers working currently as teachers. To them e-learning is the game changer for all students and their education potential.

Posted by Nancy on 01/24 at 03:44 PM

A fantasy to be sure, if the customer was considered first. A kid like mine would benefit from a multi-approached in instruction starting in grade 1, as would a great many other students, if not all. My child?s education potential was put at great risk due to the agendas and best interests within the education system.

Listen carefully Nancy, most kids are not like yours. Without economies-of-scale growth will be very slow.

Posted by Doug on 01/24 at 04:07 PM

cherry pick all you want Doug. It doesn’t change reality that Virtual Learning is part of the education choice available to students and their families.

Competition for public schools too is reality. The public system saw it and is trying to stem the flow. The beauty of it all is in the savings that can be found - less overhead, fewer educators, no busing. 

No Doug….this is just the start of what’s possible in Ontario.

Posted by Chuck on 01/24 at 05:48 PM

Funny Doug, how the naysayers within always state economies of scale growth will be very slow.

At the beginning of grade 6, the naysayers within stated at the very best my kid was capable of obtaining a 60 something average, and had to work very hard at it. The start of grade 6, I commence the start of serious tutoring and re-teaching at home, with the heavy use of e-learning to correct many of the deficiencies in knowledge gaps that my child had. Within six months my child was maintaining a high B average or a low 80 average in all subjects. Remarkable improvement for a dyslexic with language weaknesses, and in a few years unknown to me, would cause much consternation with the naysayers within the education system.

My child did not become any smarter, nor a brain whiz. She was learning how to learn a smarter way, a faster way that match her learning, as well as making use of her strengths, and at the same time to improved her learning weaknesses and her knowledge gaps.

Six months of home-made tutoring to a solid B average and compared that to 2 years of SE math, dumbed-down work, and at the end of grade 5, my child could not do long division, because it was not taught. Six months of home-made tutoring, and all done after-school, using online resources, which were far fewer than what is available today. Khan Academy would be one such resource, that I would had love to be available, because I had to start with addition. Even addition had to be re-taught, and the math professors that I spoke to, was absolutely correct, as well as making heavy use of the online resources that makes home tutoring a possibility, as well as providing learning resources, that the public education no longer teaches to mastery.

Correction Doug, most kids are like my kid, with their own individual learning strengths and weaknesses, One sized fits all approaches, dumbing it down, and accommodations does nothing to improve all students learning strengths and weaknesses and their gaps in knowledge. E-learning provides the vehicle to customized education for each student, and not the current approach in our public schools, where it is the book learners that excel no matter the approach.

One can only imagine if blended learning and a full slate of e-learning was in a public education system, available 24-7 what it would do for achievement levels and the foundational 3 Rs. If anything it would reduce costs, and the monies saved, could be put to good use on the nice-to-have things for a school. Perhaps a fully stocked school library?  Or seeing a dyslexic achieving the highest average in his or her class?

Posted by Nancy on 01/24 at 05:48 PM

Not a fantasy when there are choice options. A fantasy in what the public system offers because the customer is the last consideration.

Posted by Dan Sing on 01/24 at 05:52 PM

Below a Canadian study on e-learning, exploring the directions.

“Overall, we know that research in e-learning has not been a Canadian priority; the culture of educational technology research, as distinct from development, has not taken on great import. In addition, there appears to have been a disproportionate emphasis on qualitative research in the Canadian e-learning research culture. We noted that there are gaps in areas of research related to early childhood education and adult education. Finally, we believe that more emphasis must be placed on implementing longitudinal research, whether qualitative or quantitative (preferably a mixture of the two), and that all development efforts be accompanied by strong evaluation components that focus on learning impact. It is a shame to attempt innovation and not be able to tell why it works or doesn?t work. In this sense, the finest laboratories for e-learning research are the institutions in which it is being applied. “

Another conclusion arising from the study:
“Implications for K-12 Practitioners
?When implemented appropriately, technology tools are beneficial to students? learning, and may facilitate the development of higher order thinking skills.
?Student manipulation of technology in achieving the goals of education is preferable to teacher manipulation of technology.
?Teachers need to be aware of differences between instructional design for e-learning as compared to traditional face-to-face situations.
?Immediate, extensive, and sustained support should be offered to teachers in order to make the best out of e-learning.”

Posted by Nancy on 01/24 at 06:25 PM

My thoughts echo John’s,life taught me that there are no silver bullets.

Yes, I think there is a place for virtual education and I think it could be extremely useful for certain students in certain circumstances, especially for older students such as high school students or for self-motivated students who tend to get very bored and lazy at school.

I love Khan Academy, I’ve recommended it to other parents who love it.

For a student to use Khan Academy he has to start. To start a student either has to be internally motivated or an adult has to ask him to start and to persevere for a while, otherwise it simply doesn’t happen.

Yes, I also agree with Doug, Khan Academy would not be considered exceptional outside North America.

It is just(!) a very well-sequenced curriculum, with build in repetition, taught by a very competent teacher with some charisma.

We simply don’t have today in ours schools the well-sequenced curriculum, the repetition, or the competent math teachers in our elementary schools.

To sum up, I think there is a place for virtual learning. However I think it is more of a niche and that it will never grow to be more than that because it only fits certain students and certain learning situations.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it can be a meaningful choice except for very few and such it will not be able to exert enough competitive pressure.

Posted by fromEurope on 01/25 at 01:54 AM

I disagree that e-learning is a niche, especially when one googles e-learning with the attached word, future. There is a breathe and variety coming from all sides, that e-learning, virtual learning is here to stay. Below is an example of new technology that exists today.

“The New Media Consortium and Educase, predicted that the use of augmented reality in education would be widespread within 2-3 years. While augmented reality (AR) has been around for a few years, the technology required to make it cost-effective for education environments is finally catching up.”

I can very well imagine in another 25 years, schools will have no grades, except for administration purposes, freeing the students to expand their knowledge base, a blended learning environment composed of small multi-facet communities within a school, the community and the home environments.

The advances that are being made in technology, such as the i-phone, and the i-pad and the subsequent app market and the tablet market, will only spurred new creative innovation for education, health and other related services that impacts people’s lives on a daily basis. It is already changing the face of public libraries, and the invention of e-readers, as the i-pad has transformed learning in post-secondary studies in science and medicine.

The future is bright for e-learning, and everywhere that I have read, the educators will become the crucial glue to guide the small multi-facet communities within the schools, communities, and homes.

Posted by Nancy on 01/25 at 09:18 AM

“To sum up, I think there is a place for virtual learning. However I think it is more of a niche and that it will never grow to be more than that because it only fits certain students and certain learning situations.”

Sorry Europe but it’s already growing beyond expectation.
It’s because it’s an education style that fits the student rather than the student having to fit the system.

It’s already a meaningful choice to those who have experienced it.  Just because it’s not meaningful to you doesn’t mean it’s not a meaningful choice to someone else. All choice is meaningful and highly personal.

Passing judgement that it’s not, would never occur to me.

Posted by Chuck on 01/25 at 09:54 AM

A famous Time magazine cover from the early 60s I believe featured a TV set in a classroom with no teacher. Is TV the end of teaching?

Been there done that.

Posted by Doug on 01/25 at 10:04 AM

If you check the links above, you will see that elearning students are doing much worse than either charter students or regular PS students.

Elearning is interesting and has a lot to offer but there are many problems.

Posted by Doug on 01/25 at 10:36 AM

“Elearning is interesting and has a lot to offer but there are many problems.”

The many problems related to achievement are the restrictions placed on e-learning by the public education systems, as well as not having the knowledge base and training, as to why and how e-learning should always be based on the individual’s learning needs, and the individual having freedom to manipulate that is more in line with their own personal learning style.

It is the restrictions place on the students, that is producing the identical low levels of achievement as if the students are sitting in a classroom.

Many problems at the school level, where e-learning programs are watered down, the cherry picking of elements of the program that is bound to produce poorer results, than the original program created by the private sector. It is why if a parent asks me about e-learning for tutoring help, go private because of the breathe, choices, and pricing that allows the best fit for their kids, compared to the offerings at the school level, where remediation takes a back seat to covering the curriculum and outcomes in courses. A new growth industry, are parents signing up for online high school courses, in order to help their children succeed in their courses. Lots of chatter by parents, discovering that the public education being received, the quality takes a back seat at the expense of the students.

Online learning is not going anywhere, and will expand whether the public education systems want it or not. Just like technology in the industrial sector has done a number in terms of reducing the work force in the traditional jobs. But teachers will never be reduced because the technology allows teachers the autonomy and the innovation to focus on the individual students learning needs, rather than applying one-sized-fits-all model for a classroom and as well as following the large-scale education models.

The television is not interactive, but the advent of the computer and the technology is interactive that allows schools and the educators to provide an education experience to reach each and every student’s potential, according to their learning styles and ability.

Posted by Nancy on 01/25 at 11:50 AM

Two 17 year old boys, learning on their own and did something amazing.

“Their footage shows the Lego man spinning at an altitude three times higher than the peak of Mount Everest, before the balloon bursts and he starts to plummet. ?We never knew it would be this good,? says Ho.

Ho turned to Muhammad. ?Congratulations Asad, we did it,? he said, and shook his friend?s hand. “—toronto-teens-send-lego-man-on-an-a-balloon-odyssey-24-kilometres-high

Virtual education off the grid - that is without the usual players except for the internet.

Posted by Nancy on 01/25 at 12:13 PM

You believe whatever you want Nancy but I seriously doubt that E-learning will every be more than 10% of “bricks and Mortar” schools. All the wishful thinking will not change that. I doubt that it will reach 10%.

Posted by Doug on 01/25 at 12:27 PM

Remaining true to form, the retention of the industrialized public education model, and the status-quo of education quality.

Doug, you ought to read the many articles of the heavy weights in the education field, that sees a marriage of e-learning, traditional classrooms, and the present technology as well as technology that has not been invented yet for the future classrooms and education of children.

Currently being seen in the world of students with disabilities in the private schools and research. Ensuring that students become proficient with the 3 Rs, as well as development of the strengths that are very much needed for the 21st century. Strengths in the industrialized education model, that have been dismissed as not being worthy for academics in the 20th century. 

Or the the Star article in my last post, of two boys learning on their own, because they thought it would be fun to do it. Unauthorized learning as some would put it, but a skill that is worthy of the 21st century.

Posted by Nancy on 01/25 at 01:15 PM

Interesting post on the CEA site,

Speaking about “The idea that learners should be driving the use of technology in schools is gaining popularity with boards of education when they go to create the budget and with district and school administrators when organizing infrastructure in their schools.”

To the question - “The question, then, is what technology can help use better engage in these practices? (And by technology I do not mean product or device.) This question points to a shift in who needs control over the technology we use: the IT person at the board office or teachers and learners?”

Teachers and learners should be in charge, and not some educrat or pencil pusher deciding what and how technology is used inside the schools.

Posted by Nancy on 01/25 at 01:32 PM

!0% Doug? You’re aiming high.

Not as long as e-learning is centralized.

Posted by Steven on 01/25 at 01:49 PM

Doug, you ought to read the many articles of the heavy weights in the education field, that sees a marriage of e-learning, traditional classrooms, and the present technology as well as technology that has not been invented yet for the future classrooms and education of children.

This supports my argument, not yours.

Teachers and learners should be in charge, and not some educrat or pencil pusher deciding what and how technology is used inside the schools.

These people are often known as “experts”.

Posted by Doug on 01/25 at 04:22 PM

I would not be so quick on protecting the crafted image of educrats that work so hard to create an image of teachers being in charge. In reality it is the educrats and pencil pushers, as well as the institutions within the education system, All the many agendas within collude together to ensure that teachers and students have limited options in the education of students.

Experts that have power and authority over what will be and will not be in the classroom, is very much like a trained doctor without having the authority over his patients treatments. As it stands now, teachers have little authority and the power over what will be and what will not be for the individual students’ education. Teachers in Canada, give up their autonomy, in favour of giving the autonomy and authority to the educrats above them, at the expense of the students’ education.

Well-suited for a centralized education model for the agendas within, as well as being a major characteristic of centralization that turns the bottom level to work for the best interests of management and profitability. Fine for a manufacturer, not too good for the majority of students and the steady production of knowledge gaps.

Read the articles, it does not take sides - but the technology and e-learning will soon posed difficulties for the agendas and interests within the education system, as the outside world changes as well as the students learning needs.

The first three posts on Kitchen Math, is a small sample of shifts outside the public education system, to which working memory, the memorization of facts, and the importance of automaticity. Throw in the third post, is all about homeschooling parents on high school algebra - “help parents shore up their content knowledge, with a secondary focus on the pedagogy of home-based education.”

I am sure it will be a hit, especially with parents who are not homeschoolers. As well as using e-learning to educate the parents, to undo the damage being done by the agendas and interests concerning the math curriculum, that teachers have no say in it, as well as the students.

Posted by Nancy on 01/25 at 05:14 PM

Doug, at the bottom of the link -

“American education desperately needs an overhaul that goes far beyond upgrading computers in the classroom. It?s the last major American field relatively untouched by technology. But Jobs was right: technology by itself won?t fix what ails our schools. He saw teachers? unions and archaic practices as the big barriers. Perhaps, but I?d argue they are symptoms of our larger inattention to instructional quality. The bells and whistles of technology, for all its promise, are distracting us from this mundane but essential reality.”

Read more:

All about the quality of instruction, and DreamBox is an excellent example of e-learning where all children actually would learn and progress. I spent some time on the site, reviewing fractions. Compared to what the Canadian education systems have to offer, the quality is so poor, as well as the instruction.  I would highly recommend it for parents to subscribe to it, that will engage the students as well as higher achievement in math on the foundation.

Posted by Nancy on 01/29 at 12:12 PM

This article from today’s Star shoots holes in Doug’s spin. Truth to demand for on-line learning, this time in post-secondary is clear.—long-promised-ontario-online-institute-still-far-from-launch

Posted by Dan Sing on 01/30 at 09:39 AM

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Posted by Marina Yana on 08/05 at 07:56 AM

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