I read two unrelated articles today that just connected right together for me.
The piece collects a lot of statistics about teens online and how they are multitasking or, as BurstMedia says: these "uber-taskers" are "simultaneously using various consumer technologies and media types; and using these technologies as complements to one another - producing an effect often greater than if consumed alone."
Look at the chart for details, but here's the quick version - these teens say they spend three or more hours per day online and that 80% of all US teens are online
an hour every day.
We know they're not just doing research - though 48.9% say they work on homework while online, 33.8% say they watch TV or a movie and 40% say they text or talk with friends on the phone while online.
OK, now article #2
From a Mississippi newspaper The Clarion Ledger, an article titled "Online courses take heat out of summer school" by Cathy Hayden.
The state has a Department of Education Virtual School that offers summer school classes online. Last year they got 26 takers. This year more than 600 students have signed up for one of 12 free online courses offered. (The most popular classes are English 3 and Advanced Placement American government.)
Not only is it cost-effective, it probably a lot more desirable to their students because it gives them the ability to time-shift that study that normally would cut into their possible working hours or sun worshipping.
Nothing too unusual about the courses - students are assigned all their reading and writing lessons and have deadlines throughout the course to keep them on track. They use discussion forums.
Their only limitation seems to be that actual Mississippi teachers who were specially trained for six weeks are the ones interacting with students through e-mail and online chats, and that pool of trained teachers is small.
And this is $weet - the free Web-based classes were paid for with a $2.5 million grant from the BellSouth Foundation and $1 million from the state.
Courses are monitored by the local school's counselor, including giving the exams. They find that most of the kids are working from 10pm to 3am.
So, you see the connection, right?
Marketers are locked into how to reach teens online. Many schools have the technology in place to teach online.
Are we educational institutions doing as good a job at selling? Are colleges missing a big market by not offering to be the training and technology partners to K12 districts?
I'm always beating the K20 drum at meetings and conferences, but it must be a different drummer that people are hearing because I just don't see higher ed making enough connections. It's another point on the tally column for why I believe should be checking into using free software like Moodle to create online learning environments for their courses during the year and in summer.
I remember having to give those dreaded summer readings & assignments (and it's the best students - AP and honors - that usually get stuck with them) and I recall my own sons having to do them and doing anything they could to get around them. It's possible that kids might actually enjoy doing a few things online over the summer (rather than in a classroom or on their own) and there could be discussion, feedback and time management built into the curriculum. Probably be a lot less of it crammed into the last weeks of summer. And teachers could have quizzes and assignments checked/graded (in some cases by the software) before school started and then pick up from there on day one in the classroom.
Yes, you would have to give the teachers some training and pay them some summer stipend, but I would have jumped at it in those years when I taught "summer school" from 8:30 - 12:30 in an un-air-conditioned classroom to 25 kids who didn't want to be there.
I'll be curious to see if I can find any other places that are doing this already. If you are, or know of examples, please comment below.
Reach students and teach students - tough to succeed as an educator without both.