Dear Commons Community,
The New York Times has a piece on the new common core requirements for K-12 education. The Common Core curriculum standards have been promoted that their focus on critical thinking will benefit students. While that remains to be seen, areas that are certain to benefit from more uniform educational standards is the online learning and testing industries. The Times piece specifically comments:
“Even as critics sound alarms about the increasing privatization of public education, the Common Core promises to raise the e-learning industry to new levels by offering opportunities for more education products, including tests, and making it easier and less expensive for companies to develop them…
And the very thing that attracted so many states to adopt the Common Core – the widespread standardization of learning goals, as well as the opportunity to do more creative teaching – can also turn it into a windfall for e-learning companies.
Industry leaders said they expected an increased need for basic learning materials to free up teachers to focus on the deeper-level thinking associated with Common Core. At the same time, content experts and developers can focus more on creating courses that address those new goals…
According to NextUp Research, the research arm of Global Silicon Valley Corp., the e-learning market in the United States is expected to grow to $6.8 billion by 2015, up from $2.9 billion in 2010.”
There are also downsides to the electronic approach.
“emphasizing the uniformity of Common Core seems to some to undercut the standards’ strongest selling point: its flexibility. John Ewing, president of Math for America, said that the math standards were “stunning,” and that he was concerned what the software developers will do with them.
“The idea,” Mr. Ewing said, “is to teach the teachers to look at the standards, unravel them, interpret them, and tackle the hard questions. But these e-learning companies are going to convert those nice standards into a mechanized presentation.”
“Roland Legiardi-Laura, a co-founder of the Power Writers literacy program, said that the Common Core was a “test factory wrapped up in a Tootsie Roll outer shell…[and] that standardization and increased reliance on technology would further erode the relationship between teachers and students. He said that this relationship was vital to a child’s success, and should not be mediated “through electronic screens and 0s and 1s.”
I support the idea of a common core to a certain extent but as indicated in the article, flexibility is key and I am afraid that too many of the electronic presentations will indeed by very mechanistic and teach to a test or other simplistic assessment.