Thursday, August 4, 2011

Headline diverges

I thought the headline on this column in the North Bay Nugget was disjointed from the tone of the text itself. The headline leaves one with the impression the column is going to be a missive about all that's wrong with the education system.
The column is actually about the Toronto-based, Ministry of Education-funded, TVO-administered distance-learning centre, the Independent Learning Centre. The author claims some difficulty in finding the website, which was easily googled, but whatever.
His key point:
If technology was being used as it should be I am certain the cost of education could be substantially reduced and more young people would be doing much better. Most important there would be more money available for elementary education.
This is a good time to tip one's hat to the kindergarten teachers and all the others charged with teaching the first few grades. What students learn or fail to learn in the first few grades profoundly affects them for the rest of their lives.
I do not believe computers can replace teachers in a student's early years but they can certainly help. When my grandchildren were very young it constantly amazed me how well they handled computers.
In a few lines he acknowledges both the benefits and challenges of computer-driven distance education. When it works, it's a fantastic alternative. But without students who are ready to engage with their learning in this format, it doesn't work. So, as stated, it doesn't always work for younger students. For those who are not interested in learning in any academic way, doing it by computer doesn't usually fix the challenge. Distance learning also requires self-accountability and a sense of independence and if the student isn't capable of it they're often let down since there's no one in the room to prod them on.
But is all this enough to state the system needs an overhaul? Not in this writer's opinion.