Experimentation

It is becoming ever clearer that personalized learning on 1:1 devices is an experiment. While some may not like the idea of children being part of experiments under any circumstances, when done well, it is a way to study what interventions work and which ones don’t. But, there are core principles and ethics that should underlie any such initiative.

Here’s what a 4th grade teacher in Maine had to say: “When researchers in university settings conduct studies involving “human subjects,” there are two categories of people that always get extra special protection: pregnant women and children. Even if the research involves minimal to no risk to the child (a survey, for example), an Institutional Review Board must certify that the investigators meet certain criteria, including obtaining permission from children’s parents or guardians.  Competency-based and personalized learning experiments, which typically rely heavily on digital and online learning, involve a number of potential risks – including those that are health-related (impact on vision, over-exposure to wifi radiation), academic, and social/emotional (what happens when students spend less time with teachers and more time with devices?).”

Read that 4th grade teacher, Emily Talmage’s most recent article,  Parents Beware.

Here in Baltimore, we need only look at the evaluation of the STAT experiment being conducted by JHU.  We must wonder why it is that it is not clearly labeled an experiment since we do not know what the academic outcomes will be.  The logic model is being used to evaluate the STAT experiment and it is only looking at qualitative data for the first two years.  The stated measurable outcomes are described in this way: “The study demonstrated evidence of professional development effects on measurable outcomes, including classroom environment, teacher practice, digital content, student engagement, and 21st century skills.”  Here is the link to the “measurable outcomes” as stated by BCPS.

It is not until the third year that the logic model looks at quantitative data – academic results.  And where are the safety concerns?  Where is the potential risk to children being studied?  That is not included.  Where is the logic, again?

We do not believe 21st century is an adjective and here is  Alfie Kohn’s take on the term “ 21st century learning“.

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