Yesterday I began the week with an entry on the rhetorical question of Why Do Cyber Charter Proponents Lie? (although one person did feel the need to answer). Later in the day, these two items came across my electronic desk…
- Defending Online Learning, Part One by Thomas K. Lindsay (National Review Online)
- Defending Online Learning, Part Two by Thomas K. Lindsay (National Review Online)
Part one is all about higher education, but in part two the author goes into the realm of K-12 online learning; and lo and behold, we find:
Online education also is making its presence increasingly felt at the K–12 level, leading education analysts Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn to predict that by 2019, 50 percent of all courses for grades 9–12 will be taken online — “the vast majority of them in blended-learning school environments with teachers, which will fundamentally move learning beyond the four walls and traditional arrangement of today’s all-too-familiar classroom.”
If their forecast proves even half-right, it is reasonable to expect that, in very short order, waves of online-educated, college-bound students will be comfortable with, will expect, and perhaps — given both its lower cost and instructional efficacy — will demand a similar mix of face-to-face and online education. (emphasis added)
Again I am forced to ask, what instructional efficacy and where is the actual evidence for this? None is presented, I suspect because none can be found.
In fact, if you look at the evidence this author uses in general, it is a mismash of misunderstanding and ideologically driven, unreviewed items. In part one the author – look so many others on the right – misuses the US Department of Education meta-analysis (see Why Do Cyber Charter Proponents Lie? for why this is a misuse), cites an opinion report from a right-wing think tank focused on privatization of public services and the extreme right-wing book authors Moe and Chubb, moves on to the opinion-based survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, and finishes with the descriptive survey conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group. In part two, the author begins with the Christensen and Horn predictions (which those of us who have been involved in K-12 online learning have refuted – see Lost in Cyberspace and Theory of Disruption Applied to K-12 Doesn’t Compute), more from the descriptive Babson Survey Research Group’s work, thoughts from Allan Bloom and Aristotle (both of whom would have been steeped in online learning having died in 1992 and 322BC respective), and that’s it!
Where is the methodologically valid and reliable evidence to support the use of online learning – at any level? Where is the peer reviewed research to further the discussion of this important topic? In both instances it is no where to be found! But these are the tactics of the right, cite like-minded ideologues and misuse research that may present their position in a favourable light in an attempt to put one over on society. I do hope my American colleagues have the good sense to see through it, as their legislators – at least for the moment – are too busy being swindled to figure this out!