Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Special Blog Assignment

Interviewed some of the USA's greatest visionaries to talk about the world of tomorrow

As I read "A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind", I learned a lot about the future of education and what it may become. Mary Beth Marklein, author of this article, interviewed Sebastian Thrun. Thrun is the founder of Udocity, which is an education company. He teaches free online classes to anyone who wants it. He taught a class composed of more than 160,000 students. Thrun states that after this experience, he could never go back to the traditional classroom. He explained to Marklein that there are no tardies, and failing grades are not an option. He said the class is almost like a playground. Thrun told Marklein that he believed education should be as fun as playing a video game.

Udocity is not the only online start-ups that Thrun oversees. He hopes to develop a catalog of free online courses taught by prominent professors from all over the world. Sal Kahn, a friend of Thrun’s, has gotten some schools to “flip” their classroom. The students watch a video at night and complete work the next day in class. According to Thrun, some charter schools have also built curriculum that involve game playing. Making online college as affordable as a phone bill is the goal of other places, such as Charter University. Thrun also states that classes could be as large as thousands of students. As Marklein listens to Thrun, he tells her he does not know how education will be in thirty years, but he does know that educators are using technology to personalize their teaching strategies. He says grades will not exist, nor will a time limit exist. Students will be able to work at their own pace and take as long as needed to master a skill or concept. Thrun uses an analogy of the live theater versus film-making in explaining his theory. When film-making became popular, it did not destroy the live theater. Films were just different forms of entertainment. He believes this stands true for the education system. The online college will not replace traditional classroom education. The online college will be just another option for students to learn through a different form of education.

As I read and thought about this article, I wanted to know more about Udocity. I went to their website and looked at a course that I could take. I could see the instructor’s hands writing on the white board as if I were in his classroom. The site was easy to navigate, but someone with limited computer skills would probably struggle. The class forum is exceptionally helpful. You can ask questions, seek help from others taking the class, or just make a comment.

However, in the video segment of this article, Thrun says that human interaction is essential in education. To be online, with no personal interaction, as Thrun has described, makes that statement contradictory. He even stated he did not ever want to go back to the traditional classroom. My personal view as a future educator is still a little skeptical of the free online college. First, the traditional classroom should be enhanced by technology, not replaced by it. I do not want to teach from a computer. I love technology and the advancements that have been made in the education system, but sometimes I think teachers want to teach technology instead of the subject at hand. I do not want to be one of these kinds of teachers. I do not have anything against “flipping” my class but only if all students have access to computers and internet at home. I am all for game playing to learn a skill or concept. I will try anything I have available to better my student’s educations. I also believe in the grading system. I have learned through my educational journey that it is okay to fail sometimes. If we teach our students that failure is not an option, the wrong message is being sent. I believe in accountability for the students and the teachers. I want to be held accountable for what I teach. If I were to have one student who did not learn anything from my class, I would consider myself a failure as an educator.

The free cost of online learning will be a very positive force for many people. I know my college education has cost a lot of money, but it has given me something money cannot buy. I have learned about life and made lifelong friends that could never be taught from a computer. I do not want my future students to miss the opportunity to experience the life lessons that can be learned in the classroom. The major goal I have is to teach my students the subject at hand, but also about life.

I know change is necessary, but I believe change can happen to better what we have in place already. Enhancing our education by technology is acceptable. Using technology as an alternative for educating our students is still to new for me to accept.

I love technology, but interaction with people is essential. Society is filled with advanced technology, but there are people behind the scenes of the technology. Social skills that are learned in the classroom can never be replaced by technology.

As I prepare for my future as an educator, advanced technology skills will be essential for my students to succeed. I also believe life lessons are essential for success. I, for one, believe we can have it all!

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