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When technology in schools goes too far

favicon This morning, I read a scathing article in The New York Times that investigated K12, the nation’s largest for-profit online education provider. It’s a long and excellent article.

In K12 schools, kids as young as 6 years old mostly stay at home and do their lessons at a computer, while teachers manage up to 300 students at a time.

This isn’t academic intervention or enrichment. It’s a child’s entire education.

I’m a big believer of tech in schools, but K12 goes way too far. It’s eliminating the two most crucial elements to a student’s education: the teacher and the other students.

Full disclosure: I currently attend an online master’s degree program. (But that’s different, I swear!)

Although online learning can provide targeted and individualized intervention, it should never be a replacement for the interaction that occurs between students and their teacher in a classroom.

Imagine if your memories from childhood amounted to the hours you spent in front of a computer.

The saddest thing here is that it seems like K12, in its recruiting efforts, may be targeting students of color and others who have traditionally not been successful in public schools. This is unfortunate not just for K12 but also for our public school system. After all, families who transfer their children to K12 must feel strongly about the low quality of education they’re receiving from their current public school.

Instead of replacing a child’s education with an online solution, I wish companies like K12 would partner with schools to provide targeted intervention. I have no problem if our school had more computers and if my students worked independently, as part of the curriculum, to build their skills. Of course, there’s probably not enough money in that model, which is exactly what for-profit companies like K12 are after. favicon


  1. John at TestSoup

    That’s sad. I think the social aspect is the most important part of elementary school. Distance learning has no place there. Maybe we can start bringing it in around middle school. Maybe.

    • Mark Isero

      Thanks, John, for your comment. You should take a look at the comments at the end of article. Usually the comments in The New York Times are fairly respectful (and even staid). Not this time! Education brings up difficult and strong emotions.

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