First you pitch an idea, then everyone wants proof it will work. And work better than the previous or existing practice. I’m glad as heck that government by the people wasn’t held to that standard during our Nation’s founding.
Today the issue is online education, and a simple proposal by Idaho’s state schools chief, Tom Luna. Have all high school kids take a couple of online classes per year.
Oh the people have wailed on this one. Yes they have a right to, but wow. You would think Luna had promised the machine would hug the child better than the parent. Or bus him or her to school and feed them the free lunch. Not so. It is a simple proposal, it will work, and it might actually save some money. Those are good things.
First, simple. Most Idaho school districts already have access to online classes and many use them regularly. The classes are taught by teachers, not the computer – a mystery solved there, and kids seem to do okay with them, given proper supervision and structure. No mystery there.
Now, saving some money. This can be a bit slippery as increased capacity for state online course suppliers can cost, as does in-class supervision on the receiving site, but distributed across the state it likely will reduce the number of classroom teachers needed, and money will be saved. Those are good things, especially in such a tight economy.
But will it work? Has it been shown to be effective? Those are silly questions really. Will the car replace the horse? Not for horse lovers, or riders, or ranchers, or high country hunters. Horses are here to stay. But so are cars. It is not an either-or. Both are “effective.”
My wife loves her Nook. It is an e-book reading thing. I’m a medium-tech guy but have no interest in a book reader. I love and collect books, the paper kind. I enjoy the touch and feel and heft and they harken to my childhood, a home full of books and reading parents. It’s a choice. My wife reads effectively with her Nook, and I with my book.
But a bigger point is that kids in school today need to learn how to learn online just as they do with personally attentive in-classroom teachers. Every kid leaving high school will enter the workforce at some time, and they will receive safety training, professional development, etc., via online means. Our schools should prepare them for that.
The only rub to me is how many online classes should a high schooler take? One? One per year? Twenty-five percent of total credits? All of these options are arbitrary, and cloud the big point – every kid should take one or more. That’s simple. It works, and it is irrelevant if it has ever worked before, or if it can be proven to be “effective.” Its effectiveness is by doing it. We call that change, and in this case it is good.