Virtual School Meanderings

February 17, 2011

K-12 Online Learning And Educational Reform

I’ve had a couple of items that have come across my electronic desk in the past day or two that have all kind of come together for me in a mishmash of ideas.  The first was this item that scrolled through my Twitter stream:

Click on the image or visit

Essentially, Will Richardson is responding to an article that was posting in the Huffington Post by Tom Vander Ark entitled “Utah Poised to Lead in Online Learning.”  If I could be so bold, I believe Will’s main criticism of what Tom has written is that everything Tom points to that is good about the program in Utah has nothing to do with the fact that the program is online.  Will even creates the following list from Tom’s article:

  1. I can work ahead if I’m able to
  2. I get nearly instant responses from my teachers
  3. I get personalized support when I need it
  4. My teachers are just as excited about online learning as I am
  5. I can do all my math for the week on one day if I want to
  6. I know how I’m doing, my grades are right on the screen
  7. My parents can see my work and grades
  8. My courses are more challenging
  9. I can keep up with my work when my family travels
  10. I can work around a busy schedule

All Will is exactly right about this.  These gains or improvements have nothing to do with the fact that the school is online.  They have nothing to do with the fact the school is a charter school.  Both of these are things Tom thinks are the answer to all of our educational woes.  But the bottom line is that what this Utah program has done is simply focus on changes to the teaching and learning environment – essentially how education is designed, delivered and supported.  To put it more bluntly, as I did this past summer in News: Study Finds No Clear Edge for Charter Schools,  to paraphrase a former Democratic political operative, “It’s about the pedagogy, stupid!”

The educational reform movement should not be about how education is funded, how it is governed, or how it is administered.  These are the things that those pushing the McDonaldization of public education want to focus on because they think school’s should be run like businesses.  The cherrypick and misuse research to push their own politically motivated agendas, and at the end of the day produce the same results as the current public school system.  I bring this around to educational reform because Will Richardson is one of those folks actually making sense on the issue.  He is someone interested not in who can profit from public education, but how we can improve the system for all students.  A couple of other posts that he made at Weblogg-ed also caught my attention:

I particularly like the second one, as it reminds me of my own entry Where Are Our 95 Theses???

Finally, this item came through my inbox as a part of the eSchool News Today.

e Top Stories of the Day
Viewpoint: Why education is not like business Viewpoint: Why education is not like business
Much of the recent political chatter has claimed that government is inefficient, inept, and wasteful, and the oft-cited remedy for such failures is to make government–including public education–act more like business. After all, isn’t it… [ Read More ]

More food for thought…


  1. […] also the entry entitled Another Example Of The Politics Of Virtual Schooling and K-12 Online Learning And Educational Reform for more of my writing on this topic or check out the politics tag for this blog. Like this:LikeBe […]

    Pingback by Politics Of K-12 Online Learning? « Virtual School Meanderings — November 29, 2011 @ 8:53 am | Reply

  2. […] is available, their statistics appear much better than that of K12, Inc. – who also rely upon this (and other similar) […]

    Pingback by Marketing Cyber Schooling – Connections (Part II) | Virtual School Meanderings — September 9, 2015 @ 11:08 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: