Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Face-to-Face Learning (Free Choice Article)

Hello Class,

I read the article "Point/Counter: Should We Let Students Opt Out of Face-to-Face Education?" by Don W. Brown and Ralph Maltese. In this a arguments for and against the value of face-to-face education is made. Face-to-face education being the traditional form of education where students and teachers together in person; this is contrasted with purely online education where student and teacher meet over the Internet. The first author, Don Brown, argues that a purely online education is sufficient and face-to-face education is unnecessary. Brown continues stating no teacher can provide the expert information the Internet can provide and social growth occurs online, just as it does the traditional face-to-face situation. The second author, Ralph Maltese takes a balanced view. He acknowledges online learning is a valuable resource, but does replace the nuance of face-to-face communication and learning experience of working with other students in person.

I agree wholeheartedly Mr. Maltese and I am little surprised by Mr. Brown's narrow-vision of K-12 education. Online learning and other recent technological additions to the traditional classroom are certainly valuable; I would never give them back or turn them away.  Online learning is limited in its social interaction and humans will likely never reach a point in our social development where face-to-face interaction and collaboration is obsolete. Working with other humans in-person is a uniquely engaging and challenging in ways that online interaction cannot with our technology replicate. Going to traditional school and meeting with, working with, dealing with others even outside of the classroom curriculum is valuable social education that cannot be completely replicated online. While some social interaction occurs online, it is a stale version of face-to-face communication  Online learning provides education together with face-to-face education is by far better than any of two individually. Why not use the strengths of both.

Thanks for reading,


To Grade or Not to Grade..

Hi Class,

In the article "Grading: not how, but why" by Alfie Kohn, the author investigates the supposed purposes of grading, their desired outcomes and their often unforeseen negative results on student engagement and learning. Mr. Kohn states that traditionally grades served three main purposes for educators: to sort students via performance, to motivate students to work hard and perhaps learn and to provide the student meaningful feedback on their learning. However, Kohn assures assessing grades to none of these things well and often present side-effects that are detrimental to learning, high-level thinking, creativity and engagement. Moreover, Kohn argues these negative side outweigh the traditionally held usefulness of grading. Importantly, Kohn stresses the educator should consider what they are trying achieve through grading and whether it is is necessary to facilitate learning, the ultimate purpose of education.

I find Kohn's argument philosophically engaging and well-intentioned, but idealistic and practical to apply to public schools and our societal organization. Student achievement is by nature distinctly individual; it is difficult force the unique achievement of each student into one-size-fits-all categories. Moreover, I agree grades receiving a poor grade can be disheartening and striving to achieve good grades be distracting and overwhelming. However, some sort of assessment of students is necessary, not just for the student but for the educator, as well. Some sort of continuity is necessary to compare the abilities, ambition and success of student education. Entry into university and professional schools is dependent on grades and sorting of students.

However, I do agree that letter grades alone are extremely limited in the amount of information they provide about student achievement. Student grades should always be used in conjunction is written comments elaborate on the assessment of student achievement. Moreover, the use of curved grades and normalized grade distributions are patented ridiculous. All students should able to reach an A.

Thanks for Reading,