Isn’t it interesting how those who idolize digital instruction have hijacked vocabulary from special education? Unfortunately, self-directed learning is significant to them because the more you can get students working on their own the less they will need real teachers. Individualized learning doesn’t mean getting more attention. It really means working alone.
Morna McDermott recently wrote about “deep learning” and the meaning of digital instruction vocabulary. It reminded me of this old post. I updated it somewhat.
Some of us imagined a public school system that would drop special education labels and look at all children individually and collectively for their strengths and what they need to learn. We thought of it as Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) for everyone.
You will likely hear about “IEPs for All” in the future, if you haven’t already, but it is a far cry from what we dreamed.
IEPs and words like “individualize,” “personalize” and “differentiated learning” are terms that have been hijacked from special education. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and “aligned” are words that get thrown about too.
Instead of professionals—teachers, school psychologists, guidance counselors and other relevant school staff—sitting down with parents to outline an educational plan for individual children, the plan is to plug children, all children, into academic programs where they can supposedly move at their own rate of speed—on the computer.
Here are three of many articles you can find by looking up IEPs for All:
- IEPs for All: Ten Tips for Creating Individualized Instruction with Moodle and Joule
- An IEP for Every Student? Using Technology to Provide Truly Differentiated Instruction
- The Power of Personalized Learning for School Improvement
I believe the goal is to have children learn at home with software and computers and with their mother’s assistance…or no help from anyone. There is also much discussion about “self-directed learning.”
This transformation will take a while to achieve, so online charter schools will be an intermediary step. Instead of teachers, children will get behavioral monitors–supervisors who make sure they stay put in their seats as they work and don’t talk.
How about “facilitators?
Of course, this isn’t what we think of when we visualize the old concept of an IEP for a child.
If you read the recent hype by online gurus about online learning they call it disruptive. Disruptive is an unpleasant word, but it is a revered word in the world of entrepreneurial glamour and high tech. In referring to online instruction for schools it means it will drastically change schools, I think, by abolishing them.
They eventually won’t need teachers anymore either. I don’t think most people will be surprised at what I just said.
If you look hard enough you can observe signs showing the conversion to this model. If you think of something I’ve missed let me know.
- Flipped classrooms are where students get the bulk of their information at home online then attend school like school is the review…homework. This makes teachers more like tutors instead of the principal instructors.
- Synchronous learning means students and teachers work together with online material at first, but it will lead to asynchronous learning where students work on their own online.
- Blended learning means teachers incorporate the use of technology into their classrooms but it is often spoken about as leading to full-time online learning (without teachers).
- Required online courses don’t indicate the course is something better than a teacher-led course, it only means the school district has signed on to online learning, making students take classes online for a requirement. Online courses can often be taken at home.
- Testing online is now required in many places even though it doesn’t always work. Take a look at Tennessee’s recent problems.
- Virtual Schools include the most popular school which is in Florida, although they fired 177 teachers and 625 part-time instructors in 2013. What does that tell us? HERE.
- Current IEPs are becoming more standardized and impersonal not more personal. Instead of writing an IEP addressing a child’s needs, teachers use “pull down menus” to match prefabricated goals to the child. This isn’t really personalized in the truest sense.
- Teachers are not always given the right preparation for the kind of technology foisted on schools so as instructors they look like they are nonessential.
There is little research to show that online learning is better. Studies cited which laud online instruction are usually done by those who support online learning. Often one will hear positive statements without any proof.
The National Education Policy Center presents several objective studies indicating that technology can be useful, but it is not worthy of replacing schools and teachers. One of those studies is “Personalized Instruction: New Interest, Old Rhetoric, Limited Results, and the Need for a New Direction for Computer-Mediated Learning” by Noel Enyedy 2014.
Certainly, technology is a great supplementary tool for teachers. It is especially helpful for home bound students, gifted students and those who require extra assistance for learning.
But the reality is there is little, if any, evidence that sitting in front of a computer screen for the bulk of their schooling is the best way children learn.
It is quite a ludicrous idea when one stops to think how much young people (and old) are tied to tech devices in general. Most of us want to eliminate some of our online presence. Do we really want our kids online all day, everyday, doing all of their learning in front of a screen?
Total online schooling is not justified at this time, nor will it probably ever be the best way to learn everything in a student’s schooling.
But next time you hear IEPs for All, if you didn’t already know, recognize they are really saying full-time online for all students probably at home…and alone.