Arizona Republic Series on Digital Learning

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Arizona Republic began publishing a multipart series on digital learning here in our humble patch of cactus on Sunday. You can read installments one and two online.

Thus far, here is what I have learned for this series: Arizona is a wild west in terms of regulatory oversight, the main online providers in Arizona earned C grades, pure online learning works for some kids and not for others, Gene Glass dislikes online learning, and some people are uncomfortable with for-profit companies being involved in education.

Perhaps they are pacing themselves by backloading the stuff we didn’t already know into the latter part of the series.

The Wild-West bit is par for the course out here and it may be just as well. It isn’t like an extra bureaucrat or three would be likely to do anything productive. What is needed in my view is a system of 3rd party administered end of course exams. A good portion of the funding should be conditioned on how the student performs on these exams. At the moment, Arizona law provides an incentive for students to sign up for online courses rather than to educate students. The same of course can be said for the traditional districts. The river needs to flow both ways on this, as I have no more interest in funding mere seat time in a brick and mortar than I do academic failure in a digital setting. If someone needs to go first, I nominate the digital providers.

He likes it! Hey Mikey!

At the moment, Arizona has neither end of course exams developed, nor any infrastructure for 3rd party administration of such exams. Neither to my knowledge does anyone else. Time to get cracking on that.

I could write an entire post on how silly it is to implicitly expect for-profit companies to spend more money than they receive. Maybe later in the week. In the meantime, I’ll be curious to see what the Republic has to say next.

One Response to Arizona Republic Series on Digital Learning

  1. MOMwithAbrain says:

    If the school district will choose fuzzy/lousy curriculum and textbooks, who actually thinks they will choose quality software?? Anyone?

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