Continuing my summary and review of the book, Disrupting Class, this next section discusses how computers have been used in current schools and how they will transform learning from the current monolithic structure to student-centric learning.
Have cramming computers in schools helped education? It all depends who you talk to. According to the authors, in 1981, there was one computer for every 125 students in school. In 2000, there was one computer for every five students. Schools decided computers were important for students to use. Unfortunately, “schools use computers as a tool and a topic, not as a primary instructional mechanism that helps students learn to their type of intelligence.” They discuss the educational computer use research of Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University. Overall, computers and computer technology get used in limited ways in classrooms.
The authors then make the case for computer-based learning – an education that is student-centric. They quote the statistics that show the number of students in online learning courses has gone from 45,000 in 2000 to roughly 1 million today. Consistent with the theory of disruptive innovation, there is considerable “non-consumption” of computer based learning in traditional schools. Therefore, the likelihood for online learning to gain a foothold is strong. The authors illustrate, and those already involved in online education know, there are limited educational opportunities for students across the U.S. to take Advanced Placement courses, to take credit recovery courses to graduate, and a need for home schooled students to access high school content. The North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL), will soon publish a policy brief illustrating the use of online courses for credit recovery.
The book explains how computer-based learning is not as completely monolithic as the teacher-delivered mode is. Over time, computer-based learning will be a disruptive transition from utilizing the dominant type of instructional pedagogy to one that is student-centric and allows students to learn material that is consistent with their type of intelligence and learning style. They illustrate the increased enrollments in online courses offered by providers such as Apex Learning , Florida Virtual School, and VHS, Inc. Throughout this section of the book, the authors emphasize the themes of customization and personalization of student learning. Sounds similar to the themes of Web 2.0, the World is Flat and other recent publications.
The ultimate goal is to move to more individualized instruction for students. The current monolithic content delivery system does not allow more than 20% of a teacher’s time to individually work with students.
The authors conclude this section, “Much of the opportunity for student-centric technology to take root and transform the learning landscape is outside the present K-12 public education system.”