For your perusal, a completely subjective list of five things happening right now in education that are getting lots of notice, energy and resources but don’t deserve it, and why I think we need to reconsider our collective love affair with them:

1. Flipping The Class:

What is it? “…a form of blended Learning which encompasses any use of Internet technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing. This is most commonly being done using teacher created videos that students view outside of class time. It is also known as backwards classroom, reverse instruction, flipping the classroom, and reverse teaching”

What’s The Problem?

The problems with flipping are well explained in “The Flip: End of a Love Affair“.

The short form is:

  • It entrenches homework
  • It depends on lecturing, a one way transfer of information to the student from the teacher, rather than allowing the student to construct their own understandings and meaning by interacting with the information.
  • It doesn’t account for students that don’t have the resources to learn at home (e.g. technology, family support, etc.)

2. BYOD:

What is it? “…stands for “bring your own device”, and refers to students bringing their own technology like smartphones, tablets, and laptops to school for educational use.  This has been traditionally done by college students, but has now spread into K-12 education.”

What’s the problem?

I’ve written before about the problems with BYOD. I also recommend Gary Stager’s “BYOD-Worst Idea of the 21st Century

The short form is:

  • It’s inequitable. It relies on families, who don’t have equal resources, to provide devices.
  • The learning possible is restricted by capabilities of the devices brought.  If one class or student has the latest devices while other students/classes have lesser devices their is a difference in what can be taught and how.
  • Continues the transfer of responsibility for funding education from public to private.

3. EdTech:

What is it? “…an array of tools that might prove helpful in advancing student learning…” What I am specifically referring to here is the onslaught of electronic devices being brought into education.

What’s the problem?

The consistent message at ECOO12, from top thinkers and all corners, is that when considering using devices in education, pedagogy must come first. Too often we’re putting devices into classrooms and teachers have no idea what they are doing with them or how best to use them. We need to first ask the question “what are we trying to accomplish?”. Then select the tools that will help us and properly train teachers how to effectively use them in education. At a time when resources are precious let’s not waste them on poorly designed EdTech projects just because we feel we need to keep up with Jones Public School.

4) 1 to 1:

What is it? In “1 to 1” classrooms each student has their own machine or device to work on. Devices are not shared between students.

What’s the problem?

The “Maine Learning Technology Initiative” has raised the stakes considerably. In this program the whole state has gone 1 to 1. There are small individual pockets of 1 to 1 outside Maine but the general impression is that 1 to 1 is the current common practice and if you’re not 1 to 1 you’re falling behind. Due to declining education budgets 1 to 1 in the classroom will take a long time to become a fixture. Maine is a small and isolated example and no one has been able to come up with an effective scalable model that will allow 1 to 1 to be a reality in most classrooms. It’s the future, but it’s still a ways off.

5) Parent Engagement:

What is it? “…Study after study has shown us that student achievement improves when parents play an active role in their children’s education, and that good schools become even better schools when parents are involved. It is recognized that parent engagement is a key factor in the enhancement of student achievement and well-being.”

What’s the Problem?

It’s important, in a general sense, that parents be as involved in education as possible, but things have swung too far. If you want to get money for something in education simply justify it as something that will increase parent engagement and the world will beat a path to your door. As a result parent engagement has become very poorly defined. What is “Parent Engagement”? In some cases it’s just helping your child to do their homework. Do we really need workshops and parent groups for that? Not all parents have the resources or opportunity to become fully ‘engaged’ in their child’s education and lots of students excel in spite of low or no parent engagement. We must be careful that in pushing the doctrine of engagement we don’t end up excluding large groups of parents.