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Day 26/08/2013

{ A Knowmad’s Perspective } A Nuanced Take On The Classroom Versus Online Education Debate, From An 11th Grader…*

“In recent months, online education has been a hot topic full of impassioned arguments. On one side, some have said things like, “the ivory towers of academia have been shattered to their foundation.” On the other side, people have said that online learning will promise to “make intellectual life more sterile and abstract than it already is.” After a year of learning online, I don’t agree with either of those extremes. Here’s what I think: classroom education shouldn’t be fully replaced by online courses, but it can draw on what works well online. Huge online courses have many virtues but need to do better at fostering the sort of side by side back and forth collaboration that we all need to learn.”

In the short video below, eleventh-grader, Sophia Pink, shares some of the insights she gathered while spending tenth grade learning from home, using a mix of online learning courses and independent projects.

While Sophia is far from being the only student who has decided to take her learning into her own hands–it seems there’s a new TEDx talk about a kid somewhere attempting to rethink….* his or her education in my YouTube stream every day–I find her ability to reflect upon and deepen her understanding of her own learning truly remarkable. While I applaud the sense of agency and motivation that many of these other young independent learners possess, I have been a bit put off by how narrowly a lot of them seem to define their options and opportunities for learning. It seems many of them have unfortunately taken the national conversation at face value: schools are good or bad and just attempted to confirm that bias, aping and repeating what the ‘adults’ are saying. Sophia didn’t set out to confirm a bias, she set out to rethink…* the terms of the conversation altogether–the mark of a true rethinker…* Sophia’s year off {on} was not about trying to prove that the classroom is obsolete or that online learning courses are ushering in the end of rigorous learning and academics, it was about experimenting with different learning strategies and figuring out how they could be integrated into a new more fluid, fulfilling and productive whole.

For more of Sophia’s insights on learning during her sabbatical, be sure to check out her article in the Washington Post: Why I Spent 10th Grade Online.

 

learn & rethink…*

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