You mean the teacher still matters?

Four great articles have come to light lately that point to research being done and what many of us in the Ed Tech community have been saying for a long time might just be on the horizon. That is that this technology stuff can improve education. So let’s start at Mashable one of my favorite Web 2.0 blogs to read. Back in August they posted a fantastic article titled What is the Future of Teaching? Until recently, online learning has mainly been of the expository sort, essentially a traditional lecture format adapted for the web. But newer, social and multimedia technologies are allowing online tools to evolve to offer more active and interactive lessons. No longer is online learning just reading a module and answering questions — it can now include synchronous or asynchronous discussions and peer-to-peer learning exercises. As a result, online learning is becoming a more useful tool as both a replacement for and enhancement to traditional face-to-face learning. Ah…..yes….we’re starting to get the hang of this online learning stuff. We’re starting to understand that you can’t take the old model and apply it to a new medium….you need a whole new model of learning. In the Mashable article they point to research done by the US Department of Education (PDF) and link to this New York Times Post which talks about the findings of the study. A recent 93-page report on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education, has a starchy academic title, but a most intriguing conclusion: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.” and Over the 12-year span, the report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses. The analysis for the Department of Education found that, on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. That is a modest but statistically meaningful difference. Yep…we might just be getting the hang of this online teaching thing. But wait! There’s even more news about learning with technology that broke last week in a BBC article titled “Phone texting ‘helps pupils to spell’ A study of eight- to 12-year-olds found that rather than damaging reading and writing, “text speak” is associated with strong...

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