Distance “learning”… not so much

By General Education Advice

The early returns on distance learning in Connecticut schools range from “it’s a joke”, to “it took me a half-hour”, to “this was super easy but I didn’t learn much.”

Let me be clear that Connecticut educators are heroically battling a Black Swan event. This is not their fault. They are doing the best they can. But “school”, as they have been trained to create and deliver, was not whatever “this” is.

The education of our children will be hindered substantially during this time. This is not a bias against online education. This comes from deep experience from teaching online classes. I have been a distance learning educator for nearly 20 years as I teach college courses in an online format. My students are highly motivated, self–disciplined, self-structured adult learners. They are probably the best examples of students who would benefit the most from distance learning.

I still know that they are not getting anywhere near the equivalent of in-person learning. As I have written elsewhere, some portion of busy work and writing assignments are reasonably equivalent. But we learn best through instruction, discussion, and question–answer interaction.

K-12 students, most of whom are not particularly motivated, self-disciplined, and self-structured, will soon “game the system”, get what needs to be done as easily as possible, and move on to the next grade. Unfortunately, I am well aware that cheating is rampant.  

Many will lose out on skill development, foundations of learning, and general skills related to mastering the job of student. Many will not develop the fundamentals that will be required to know at some point.  Most all will not be getting a real education. 

We are working with students and parents to (1) organize their distance learning (2) tutor–teach as we always do (3) build their skills (4) provide the best learning one can get through individual instruction and (5) provide parents not only a break from attempting to manage home-schooling but also accountability for the school process and assurance that we will help fill the gaps that are missing.