31 janvier 2013

Online Education (Guest Blogger)

Marginal Revolution nous propose un lien sur l'éducation en ligne. Nous ne connaissons pas bien ce sujet mais nous avons été contacté il y a peu de temps par une bloggeuse qui nous offre son point de vue sur la question (nous ne la connaissons pas et elle défend peut être des intérêts particuliers, mais peu importe, le sujet est intéressant et vous êtes averti). 

Online Learning’s Effect on Education Reform and the Economy

With over a trillion taxpayer dollars dedicated to K-12 schooling, tech companies often see education as a cash cow waiting to be milked. The overhead for creating an online university is fairly low, and subsidies and vouchers for moving public education online in states like Florida, Indiana and Pennsylvania are moving as fast and loose as casino chips. Corporations are cashing out by creating online models that they are marketing to school districts. The result is a slew of for-profit online models that may be affiliated with more traditional schools, but are not managed or run by them.
It seems that we are gambling with education, because while the payoff for businesses is big, our students seem to be losing out. School vouchers for charter programs are up, school board budgets are down, and mostly-right-wing lawmakers are at cross-purposes with unionized teachers and educators. Is there hope for a happy medium for businesses and students?
Austerity and budget cuts brought about by the economic recession have forced school systems all across the United States to cut funding for educational programs, teachers, and entire subject courses. Online education programs have been a big help in preserving some educational programs for students due to low overhead. The Nation reported that in Florida, coursework through the Florida Virtual School costs almost $2500 less than at traditional schools. With a budget differential like that, it's impossible to ignore the benefits of moving programs online. It's also important that schools train students to be able to use technology, since there is virtually no sector of the economy that doesn't employ technology in some way.
Big businesses are at the front of the race to use vouchers for charter schools and to develop digital technologies for education. Companies like Amazon.com and Google are developing new education products, while venture capital groups like Sequoia Benchmark Capital and Kleiner Perkins are investing in online for-profit alternative schools. The Wall Street Journal cites the influx of Republican lawmakers in 2010 for the growing popularity of the voucher system, and the overall push for privatization of our education system. The states that are most heavily pushing this type of reform are led by republican governors, such as Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, Indiana's Mitch Daniels, and Florida’s Jeb Bush.
Depending on your perspective, the push for online schools is either a very exciting trend, or a disheartening one. At the end of the day, however, the main issue is the results online for-profit schools achieve when it comes to student learning and performance. The results are overwhelmingly bad. A Stanford study found that students in online schools performed significantly worse than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Another study by the University of Colorado found that only 30 percent of for-profit online schools met national achievement standards.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the online model of education, and in fact it holds a lot of promise. Online programs have tremendous power to turn around underperforming schools and to reach students in rural communities. Students with disabilities or illnesses who may not be able to participate in a traditional classroom can also benefit.  
At the end of the day, it seems that the problem is not online education itself, but rather with the for-profit model. A balance needs to be struck where traditional schools employ online technologies to cut costs, empower teachers, and reach more students--while still maintaining control of the larger frameworks. Most of the time, the debate comes down to funding. Just because corporations are willing to foot the bill does not necessarily mean that they should. At present, however, the continuing cuts made to public education are crippling the possibility of schools competing with private business to offer online programming. 

Estelle Shumann

2 commentaires:

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