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Education is a Slow Learner

May 7, 2013

A friend of mine is a junior college chemistry teacher.  He says classroom education is finally finding help online.  Sure the students can find additional reference materials online.  They can also chat with teachers aids and course assistants if they continue to have questions.  That is straightforward.  What has long consumed the instructor’s time is grading.  If the teacher has time, then they can look at the grades as they come in.  The instructor can compare the tests and problem sets with earlier classes.  The instructor can look at where this class is having problems.  He can add additional lecture or problem sets to make sure the students have mastered the material.

teach chemThe grading and progress evaluation has finally been automated.  Some large universities should have done it long ago, and  automatic grading is a necessity with large online courses.  Taking a cue from their online competitors, private companies offer the testing and evaluation services to bricks and mortar schools.  That leaves the teacher more time to refine the course material.

The teacher can determine the test questions where the students have problems.  They can change the course materials to emphasize the concepts the students missed.  Even bricks and mortar schools are benefiting from online education services.  Good for them, because they have to compete with online courses.  Some schools decided to take up the challenge, even with the additional costs of a physical classroom and campus.

One question that comes up in this whole discussion is quality.  Many will say that the quality of education from online courses is lower than “brick and mortar” instruction.  A big issue nowadays is MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).  The teacher’s unions are pushing against online instruction.  One argument is that the students lose personal attention.  The advantage of online assistance is that the teacher can invest more time with the students and spend less time grading.  Large classes make it worthwhile for the teacher to investigate their own effectiveness and perfect the course.  You don’t see that investment in small courses.


Also in education,  Texas A&M privatized campus services and saved $92 million.  This is another step towards the Texas $10,000 degree.  California isn’t likely to pursue that approach.

dunceSome public schools act as if they have a captive audience and are not about to try and compete with private education.  Chicago is closing many public schools and vows not to allow charter schools to operate from the closed school buildings.   That hardly seem like a good use of taxpayer money.  Welcome to a union town where the teachers unions make large political contributions.

 The difference in attitude could not be clearer.


Rob the student

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