With the Common Core’s emphasis on data mining and data-driven instruction there is a misguided focus and emphasis on maximizing and standardizing student “learning outcomes” rather than inspiring and supporting student learning “along the way”.
Students will learn and acquire essential academic, social, and emotional skills as they persist through vigorous and non-routine learning activities rather than proceeding through rigorous and standardized learning modules and online assessments.
Teacher, blogger and author Mercedes Schneider recently blogged about Race To The Top funding that targets school district data collection efforts and preparation for the new online Common Core assessments. Schneider found that applicants for RTTT funds agreed to
Use technology to the maximum extent appropriate to develop, administer, and score assessments and report assessment results.
The primary role of technology in education and employment should be to unleash human potential and creativity, rather than to simply quantify student and worker performance. As Richie Parker says…
I can’t say there’s anything that I can’t do…just things that I haven’t done yet.
Technology can be a powerful tool to enrich our lives while facilitating meaningful human contact and collaboration. In the classroom, education technology should be a tool to cultivate self-efficacy and encourage children to test their limits, rather than just a means to collect student data while testing a shallow and limited set of standards.
Knewton CEO, Jose Ferreira boasted in 2012 during a White House Education Datapalooza presentation;
So Knewton today gets five to ten million actionable data, per student, per day. Now we do that because we get people (if you can believe it) to tag every single sentence of their content (we have a large publishing partnership with Pearson, and they tag all their content) and we’re in open standard so anyone can tag to us.
So, Knewton students today: we have about 180,000 right now, by December it’ll be 650,000, early next year it’ll be in the millions and the next year it’ll be closer to 10 million, and that’s just through our Pearson partnership…
So we know you’re going to fail, we know it in advance and we can prevent it in advance. We go grab some content from somewhere else in the portfolio and going to seamlessly blend that into your homework tonight. So every kid gets a perfectly optimized textbook, except it’s also video and other rich media dynamically generated in real time. And it also uses the combined data power of the entire network. So here’s what I mean by that, like I said next year we’ll have close to 10 million students, a few years from now we’ll have a 100 million.
The Knewton CEO does not seem to understand that students become confident, courageous, and resilient learners by experiencing failure and overcoming adversity, not avoiding it.
Employers desire workers who know how to learn and are creative problem solvers rather than students who have been trained to perform with personalized and optimized digital learning programs.
The appropriate and effective use of technology in the classroom and workplace is as much about a student or employee mastering themselves as it is about mastering a particular device or process.
In the book, Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age the authors argue that technology should be used to customize learning and design assessments that are more appealing to students.
A test of reading comprehension, for example, is likely to present the same set of text passages for everyone, not taking into account whether each student will find the passages interesting or worth reading. Sophia, the music lover, Kamla, the basketball enthusiast, and Jamal, the expert on tanks and submarines, might all be assessed on the same passage about Mozart. Sophia would most likely be more attentive to the task than the other students, which would give her the best opportunity to show her actual reading skills. Providing multiple content options in a traditional print environment is costly and impractical. But in a digital environment, there is no reason why Kamla couldn’t select a passage about sports for her reading comprehension assessment and Jamal, a passage about submarines, as long as both passages are of comparable difficulty.
And the role of education technology will be expanded from assessing students to actually monitoring their progress and teaching them;
Most important, new technologies allow for two-way interactive assessments. With these technologies available in our classrooms, we will be able to create learning environments that not only teach, but also “learn” to teach more effectively. By distributing the intelligence between student and environment, the curriculum will be able to track student successes and weaknesses and monitor the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of its own methods. The result will be a curriculum that becomes smarter, not more outdated, over time.
Technology should be used in the classroom to assist student learning and as a tool for creating original content rather than to control learning and determine the content each student is exposed to.
At this rate, how many years will it be before the first ever U.S. Secretary of Education robot is interviewed and the reporter poses the same question that HAL 9000 was asked in 2001: A Space Odyssey ?
HAL, despite your enormous intellect, are you ever frustrated by your dependence on people to carry out your actions?
What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge,
and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.
~ George Bernard Shaw