Comments (13)

  1. At last … a reasoned, balanced response to the online learning issue. Good article Derek.

    1. Thanks Richard – balance was what I was trying to achieve – important that there is a rigorous debate from an informed perspective as there are lots of fish hooks along with the potential benefits.

  2. I agree – there are successful charter schools, but they are heavily outweighed by the disasters. Anyone who follows the charter school movement over the last 5 years or so, is aware of that. So, I don`t consider your assumption balanced.

    Secondly, despite all the hooplah, advertising and investment in edtech, Pearson is failing dismally. Indeed their latest foray with the Gates Foundation into Africa has proven to be predatory in nature. MOOCS also have delivered dismal statistics, given the wide publicity and investment, so one must consider them roadkill as well.

    And as a teacher who has taught online, in the classroom, sold edtech products, and taught in NZ, Brazil, Russia and China I feel I know what I am talking about, when I say, you have completely missed the point in this post. Edtech products are simply tools.

    The art of learning is pedagogy. And e-learning, edtech, or COOL have very little to do with pedaogogy except as a tool. So, let`s focus on learning, not the tool. And more importantly critical pedagogy. This requires one to firstly consider social justice. So, really, we need to ask if students are going to be disadvantaged or not. And the answer is yes. The evidence clearly shows they will be.

    Something else I wish to raise. In your article you do not touch on poverty or social class. Schooling begins with the most disadvantaged. The poor and oppressed. And it must be free. This is how we create a fair and equal society that respects social justice. A society that treats every individual exactly the same. This not a question open for debate. It is a given. So, to try and justify education for profit, simply tells me you are not a true educator, but a profiteer. One who is happy to divide society. Lacking the principals and moral fibre required to fight for justice in society, and instead, making the decision to support education for profit opportunities. Perhaps you are after a government contract? I don`t know. But it certainly makes me question your motives. Any education, that is paid, is tenuous.

    I understand you are one of the leading education providers in New Zealand, and as Director of E-Learning, it`s impossible for you to argue the case for teachers, because you would lose your job. Which is entirely my point. You are not free to criticize even if you wanted to. You work in a private education environment, which skews opinions and forces people to act and do things that they would not otherwise do. And I dare say, you will be one of the winners if the legislation goes through. Right?

    So, to argue balance and patience from that standpoint is ridiculous. You can`t, and you haven`t.


    1. Derek has given a very clear, considered view on this that really emphasises the importance of weighing up all the evidence. I think you may have missed his point entirely Robert, in what comes across as an emotional, knee jerk response. Derek is not promoting charter schools or privatisation here. He is merely making a point about about using evidence and maintaining balance.

      And where does he refer to edtech products? You seem to view online learning as something that does not involve the teacher – is that correct? I’m just trying to understand the “case for teachers” reference.

      In fact, the art of learning is not pedagogy. That is the art of teaching and Derek has made no inference that it is not important. Although I would suggest the art of learning is far more important.

      You do understand that a significant number of public schools are likely to benefit from this legislation don’t you? Have a read

    2. Thanks for your response Richard – it’s important in this sort of debate that people can feel free to express their views like this. Many of your views speak directly to the points I was endeavouring to make.
      I hadn’t meant this post to be a criticism of anything – rather an acknowledgement that there are real concerns here which need to be addressed with evidence and an informed view.

  3.' Lorelei King-Salisbury says:

    Thank you, Derek, for a balanced look at this issue. Having followed the heated, sometimes vitriolic, knee-jerk arguments in social media regarding COOLs, the voice of ‘let’s actually look at the evidence for and against with a view to discussing’ has been very much missed. I know for a fact that there are students out there who would likely benefit from this option, as Derek has mentioned. To make it easier for these students to access learning in this way would be hugely supportive to these students and their families. The fact is that not all schools are right for all students, and the more options that schools can provide for students, the more likely the students are to engage in learning. Education is not about what’s right for the teachers – it’s about what’s right for the students. Let’s discuss the idea of COOLs – look at the evidence all round – and go from there. Just stop making negative knee-jerk reactions and think about about the students that this might just benefit.

    1. Thanks for your considered reply here Lorelei – the issue of access is a key to what may be realised as the potential here .

    2. Thanks for your comment here Lorelei – there are definitely a number of perspectives to be considered here, and as you say, it’s the student and her/his needs that must remain central in the debate. I’ve just spent the day today with a group of 25 principals whose views would reflect yours – we live in complex times, and there are no easy answers. Emotional and knee-jerk responses are an expected part of what happens in the change environment, but finding the more reasoned, informed contributions takes more time and effort.

  4.' Howard Baldwin says:

    I’m strongly with Derek (and Darren and Lorelei) on this one. It’s disappointing that attempts to allow teacher-led innovation could be derailed by taking an extreme ‘privatisation’ stance. Let’s put learners first: not decisive polarising rhetoric.

    1. Thanks Howard – the extreme privatisation option is certainly a concern where it exists, but it’s only a part of the overall picture here so needs to be addressed as such – not to minimise it, but to separate it out from the other aspects of the change which will most certainly benefit students.

  5.' Melanie says:

    The difference between what we do already do and what happens in the US is vastly different. But the extreme of the US system could well happen here as the policy is vague and with the influence of David Seymour will remain so.

    1. Thanks for these thoughts Melanie. You’re very right about the difference between NZ and the US context Melanie, and I am not advocating that we follow that track – rather, that we look to the experiences in the US and other contexts to help understand the response being made to the drivers there (which are where the similarities are across the world) – and use this to help make an informed response in terms of the NZ context. In terms of political influences, they’ll always be there, and again, exploring the evidence from the international contexts becomes the key strategy in engaging with, and countering, some of these views.

  6.' Rachel says:

    The chance for students to access subjects of interest will be one of the positive outcomes of COOLschools. Especially when there are many barriers around doing this at the moment with places like Te Kura.
    One of my concerns is the opportunity for children/students to be removed from f-2-f schools because their parents believe they can do a better job of teaching them at home. Some of these could be students with poor attendance and this won’t necessarily be the best thing for them as they won’t do more work online. They could be at risk students that are much safer when they are at school for those 5-6 hours a day.
    Teaching students at home is not an easy option, parents need to realise that it will be a full time job and hard work. They will be the parent AND the teacher. It will not be a matter of placing the student in front of a computer and leaving them to it. They will need to help them when they get stuck and help keep them on track with their learning. The teacher at the other end can help them with the work, but the parent/supervisor is the real teacher in this situation, they are the one that will need to keep them motivated and on track. Check they are not off on another site doing something else.
    It is easy for students to fall behind when working from a distance (e.g. Te Kura) as it is not an easy way to learn. It sounds fun, work at the time that best suits you, when you want to and when it fits in with your family etc. But all of a sudden you are way behind and nothing has been achieved and you are about to be withdrawn from the school as a non-returner. Teachers have been chasing you up, ringing, emailing, e-texting and annoying you. But you have been screening the calls and ignoring them. Now you are off the roll and can’t come back to school for the rest of the year. You are NETs if you are under 16 and have to go to a school, back to f-2-f, if you are over 16, tough.

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