The Dim-Post

August 25, 2016

Electrons!

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 11:49 am

Earlier this year Key is said to have asked his Ministers to come up with some new policy ideas, to deflect the criticism that they were a tired, exhausted, intellectually bankrupt government spinning its wheels and going nowhere. Maggie Barry’s ‘Predator Free New Zealand’ stunt was one. And now here’s Hekia Parata:

School-age students will be able to enrol in an accredited online learning provider instead of attending school, under new Government legislation.

The move has dismayed the primary school teachers’ union who say education is about learning to work and play with other children.

The radical change will see any registered school, tertiary provider such as a polytechnic or an approved body corporate be able to apply to be a “community of online learning” (COOL).

Any student of compulsory schooling age will be able to enrol in a COOL – and that provider will determine whether students will need to physically attend for all or some of the school day.

The Ministry of Education says this requirement may depend on the type of COOL.

There’s a scene in HBO’s Silicon Valley where an engineer is trying to explain his product to a group of ordinary people. He asks them, ‘What’d you have for breakfast today?’ Scrambled eggs,’ someone replies. ‘Scrambled eggs!’ he repeats, thrilled to finally be communicating his idea. ‘And what’s in the eggs? Electrons! Right? And we all know how electrons exist in orbitals. Multivalent states? No?

The idea of COOLs has been around in the tertiary sector for a LONG time now – although there they’re called MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – and I think it’s based on this type of reductive thinking. Universities (and now, schools) are really expensive. Huge capital investments. Huge staff costs. Huge overheads. But what do people do at these universities? Well, they learn. What do they learn? Information. And how do you transmit information? Electrons! So there is obviously no reason why those electrons can’t be transmitted digitally at super-low cost instead of via expensive lecture theaters and classrooms and lecturers. Right? No?

I was at a seminar on how MOOCs were going to ‘massively disrupt’ the entire tertiary education system over ‘the next twelve to eighteen months’ (this was back in, I think, 2006) and a computer scientist in the audience made a point that stuck with me. ‘If there was a killer app that was going to disrupt lecture and classroom based teaching you’d think it would have been the invention of Movable Type, back in the 15th Century. That drastically lowered the cost of information transfer. For the first time in history people could read a book at a lesser cost than attending a lecture. And yet the four hundred years since then people are spending more and more of their lives in lecture and classroom based teaching. Why is that?’

The guy giving the seminar did not know, and seemed amused at the sight of all these university staffers trying to justify their existence. Didn’t we see that the digital technology meant our entire sector was going to be wiped out in a matter of months? Why were we so blind? It’s still there, though, and the reason for that is that these institutions add value to the electrons they deliver in ways that online solutions don’t.

There are various theories about what the value-add is for tertiary institutes, but for schools an additional and critical value-add is that they function as child care. Obviously the teaching and socialisation is really important, but providing a safe place for kids to go while their parents work is a huge part of the package. Who is looking after kids who are studying at home through a COOL? What happens to the grades of COOL kids who study online instead of in the school environment? If they’re at home for part of the day and at school for others, how do they travel in between outside of normal commuting times? I think Parata would say it was too early to ask those questions. Actually she’d say something like, ‘We will work towards delivering robust partnership solutions going forwards.’ But these are really basic questions that should probably be answered before we spend money on this policy.

55 Comments »

  1. Well I’ve voted National for years and I thought this was a bloody awful idea.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — August 25, 2016 @ 12:00 pm

  2. Nice analogy re elections! Part of the missing explanation is around how learners will self manage. For an individual to learn in a COOL environment they need corresponding self-regulation skills and the majority of school students simply don’t. It might work for the few, but at the cost of many others. I can’t imagine this working well with my 5th form maths class – it’d be a holiday!

    Comment by Sittingbull — August 25, 2016 @ 12:13 pm

  3. I wonder what next months brain wave will be ? Bottled water as the answer to drinking water issues. After all think of the jobs in pristine rural areas when they go after that 200 year old water.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — August 25, 2016 @ 12:14 pm

  4. The problem with distance learning is that it requires more, not less, discipline. Those that succeed are likely to be the highly motivated or well supported students who have always did well in the old correspondence school. In order to work, these COOLs will require more money for 24×7 support, mentoring, feedback, blended learning sessions, campus visits, etc etc to achieve the same outcomes as traditional learning environments.

    National’s right wing authoritarianism hates teachers for daring to be an organised and articulate centre of opposing points of view. The National party seldom misses a chance to denigrate the teaching profession. What better way to signal their loathing of the classroom teaching profession than dismiss it as utterly irrelevant to process of learning? And as an added bonus, these COOLs mean they get to create an out of sight out of mind place to dump difficult, special needs and otherwise expensive and therefore unprofiwilltable students before they roll out more charter schools for their cronies to rake off fat fees from. No need for a headmaster, we’ll get a CEO whose escalating salary will be justified by comparing his or her “compensation” on the international CEO market. http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/311568/charter-school-accounts-scrutinised

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 25, 2016 @ 12:21 pm

  5. Whereas I looked at this and thought: “another option for teaching kids. A bit like the correspondence school or Massey courses but different. No big deal. If people want to start such things that’s their risk. Plenty of people home school. Not something I’d do but Might work for some. That’s up to parents to decide .”

    Hey but it’s come from Heckyeah so of course you see a hidden agenda and think worries about how kids will travel is a policy issue.

    Comment by insider — August 25, 2016 @ 12:29 pm

  6. Your computer science guy kind of misses the point that online learning environments can be much more active than book learning. This is what makes it potentially a game-changer – especially compared to the passive/one-way transmission of knowledge that most lectures are based on (not true for studio or lab-based papers of course).

    However, school-level is much different. I’m yet to see a viable online learning environment that adequately models the social and hands-on learning that typifies most of our primary and secondary education.

    Comment by Michael — August 25, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

  7. While I am skeptical at this stage I can see how a good implementation could be extremely beneficial for students and families where the traditional classroom/education system fails. For those families in remote rural areas who rely on correspondence school or for those families home-schooling.

    For me the devil will be in the detail and I would hate to see this dismissed out of hand where there is the potential for benefit for edge cases.

    (note I also see that this also has the potential for terrible outcomes for many students who should stay in school)

    Comment by Michael J. Parry — August 25, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

  8. If it has failed overseas, like charter schools and “Teach for America”, National will do it.

    Comment by KJT — August 25, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

  9. What if your local school is shit? Do you send your kids off to boarding school? Should you buy a house in the Grammar zone? Or do you just accept it and treat school as a free childcare facility where they can hold time for a few years, before they finally leave home – not caring about the lack of learning? If you have very little money, do you even have a choice?

    Comment by unaha-closp — August 25, 2016 @ 12:34 pm

  10. I guess kids enrolled in COOLs will still be subject to assessment under National standards? If they fall behind, how long before the experiment would be stopped?
    Wondering also whats to stop someone else logging in as the pupil and completing tasks? Will the webcam be recording every interaction with the keyboard to check Johnny’s big sister isn’t doing his maths for him?
    Otherwise I’m picturing a Dickensian set up with lines of kids patrolled by grumpy, minimum wage supervisors while their parents work.

    Comment by Corokia — August 25, 2016 @ 12:52 pm

  11. What if your local school is shit?

    The theory is that the Education Review Office notices and fixes it. And this seems to work really well.

    Comment by danylmc — August 25, 2016 @ 1:11 pm

  12. “There are various theories about what the value-add is for tertiary institutes, but for schools an additional and critical value-add is that they function as child care. ”

    That’s certainly a major benefit of schools, but I don’t think it’s a CRITICAL benefit as you describe it. If this was such an important aspect of schools, and the other aspects are not important, then couldn’t you just create much much cheaper childcare centres full of computers with babysitters supervising?

    Comment by SG — August 25, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

  13. Online teaching/learning is a tool – like any tool it depends on how it is used, who by and what for as to whether it adds value or not. I suspect the real agenda here is the privatisation one, not the learning one. Tertiary institutions have been teaching online for years, with varying rates of success; the Correspondence School uses it to some extent. As M J Parry said, it can be very beneficial in some circumstances – not just for individuals but for small remote schools as well. The technology exists, it isn’t going away, so instead of simply trying to stop it, we should be looking at how best to use it to add value to the education system as a whole. In my experience (16 years online tertiary) it suits motivated adults very well; almost all the school leavers we accepted (professing real enthusiasm, parental support etc) simply don’t have the self-motivation to do it properly. Mostly, they like being in a group. There are exceptions. Then, the scenario of saving money by getting rid of all those teachers/tutors/lecturers is a myth if what you want is to actually teach people. Online teachers have to learn how to teach in a slightly different way, prepare courses to take advantage of the benefits and overcome the deficits. They need training, in short. There are already groups of online tutors having these discussions about their experiences – the very least that should be done is to consult them first and get their assistance to develop a robust, useful approach. I’m not holding my breath.

    Comment by jmcveagh — August 25, 2016 @ 1:36 pm

  14. Isn’t this a Lynton Crosby dead cat ruse? Whole areas of NZ, including downtown Auckland have rubbish wifi – other parts of the country have no wifi. Waiting to see what this ruse is obfuscating. Major crap out in the surplus? Books never going to balance again. Appalling suicide rate??

    Comment by Jake — August 25, 2016 @ 2:35 pm

  15. What if your local school is shit?

    Do what everyone else does. If you feel strongly enough about it, get on the Board. Effect change.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 25, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

  16. The thing about teaching is there is, much to the sorrow of New Zealanders who are always looking for a cheaper short cut, no techno-utopia short cut to excellence. A good teacher in front of a smallish class of well fed and happy children/teens/adults was, is, and will probably will always be the best formula for learning from kindergarten to university. Good teachers are the tip of the educational spear. That they have a union that is spends as much time making sure teaching is a closed shop as it does doing good is right royal pain in the posterior for the government, but it beats the alternative.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 25, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

  17. The theory is that the Education Review Office notices and fixes it. And this seems to work really well.

    The ERO operates 3 yearly review timeframe, with another year or two to implement changes and get results. Schools can be reviewed to have positive changes implemented in a manner that allows a minimum of disruption to school system and with little strain on the Education budget. Taxpayers are happy, teaching professionals are happy and a mere 2 – 5 years later the school is working well.

    However parents involved in the education process might feel 2 – 5 years is somehow too slow.

    Comment by unaha-closp — August 25, 2016 @ 3:13 pm

  18. So, what is The Correspondence School for then?

    Comment by James Green — August 25, 2016 @ 3:14 pm

  19. The acid test here is whether our political class stop buying books, stop attending conferences, and instead use “COOL” tools to replace them. After all, like education, 99% of overseas trips are just about exchanging information and that can be done electronically now.

    Comment by Moz of Yarramulla — August 25, 2016 @ 3:29 pm

  20. MOOCS were vastly oversold by upper levels of University management and generally resulted in more IT middle management people ie more money spent for less outcome.

    But on a smaller scale I’ve seen Internet learning resources developed that have been effective, popular and increased enrolments.

    Comment by NeilM — August 25, 2016 @ 3:45 pm

  21. “The National party seldom misses a chance to denigrate the teaching profession.”

    Whatever the National Party might do to denigrate teachers is pretty minor compared with the abuse heading in the other direction, Sanctuary. National faces the Labour Party in four forms in education: the pre-school teachers union, the primary school teachers union, the secondary school teachers union and the tertiary teachers union. Then there’s the tertiary students unions, including whatever remains of NZUSA. And they all make you look like a model of restraint when it comes to their communication with National Ministers of Education.

    Comment by Tinakori — August 25, 2016 @ 3:54 pm

  22. “…Whatever the National Party might do to denigrate teachers is pretty minor compared with the abuse heading in the other direction…”

    QED of the Tory chip on the shoulder…

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 25, 2016 @ 4:26 pm

  23. It is obvious, as our friend at @19 so succintly confirms, that National would happily dismantle and destroy the entire education sector in order to (as it sees it) deny the Labour party a source of support and settle old scores. I’m not sure if I want a party with an education policy that is largely driven by malice and revenge in government.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 25, 2016 @ 4:31 pm

  24. One of the things Ms Parata doesn’t seem to have taken into account here is that online learning is much less efficient economically than the traditional classroom, which is after all modelled on your classical 19th century factory setup. Chasing up and monitoring the work of every online student will require significantly lower teacher/pupil ratios than we have now. Unless she is assuming that the same people who were responsible for the Novopay debacle will set and mark the online work.

    The reaction to her proposal speaks volumes about how much the relationship between said minister and her sector has deteriorated. There is zero trust there and any kind of initiative will be carefully scrutinised for hidden agendas. In fact, it will just be assumed there are hidden agendas there.

    Comment by McNulty — August 25, 2016 @ 4:58 pm

  25. I did two Massey University papers online from Kuwait in 2004. It was great and I learned a lot, but that was because I was an adult, I’d paid my own money to do the papers and I was determined to get my money’s worth. I also did a year of Tech Drawing with the Correspondence School when I was 15, and it was shit – not because the Correspondence School was crap at what it did, but because as a 15-year-old I was trying to avoid doing any work to the extent possible, and the extent possible with distance education was a hell of a lot greater than in school with a teacher present. This is a recipe for disaster.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — August 25, 2016 @ 5:30 pm

  26. What if your local school is shit?

    The research suggests that there is little difference in the performance of private and public schools in NZ. If anything, public schools do better than their pricey counterparts in terms of later achievement at a tertiary level.

    For many parents “my local school is shit” can be loosely translated to mean “I don’t want my kids running around with riffraff”

    Comment by McNulty — August 25, 2016 @ 6:03 pm

  27. I don’t understand how this policy is any different from the existing correspondence school.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — August 25, 2016 @ 6:09 pm

  28. Blended learning. It seems to work best when the educators develop the resources but from what I’ve seen at the tertiary level the practitioners get little support and middle management hoover up the resources.

    Comment by NeilM — August 25, 2016 @ 6:50 pm

  29. What if your local school is shit?

    I don’t understand how this policy is any different from the existing correspondence school.

    Somewhat ironically, the “correspondence school” (now called Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu) got a really bad ERO report back in 2013, which it’s bounced back from in its latest report: http://www.tekura.school.nz/assets/Publications-non-curriculum/J22644-498-Te-Aho-o-te-Kura-Pounamu-report-2015.pdf

    I think Parata’s proposal is different because private companies (“accredited online learning providers”) could provide the online teaching.

    Comment by Flashing Light — August 25, 2016 @ 6:52 pm

  30. I’d have to agree that MOOCs are over-rated, given the numerous studies that have found they have sky-high dropout rates due to the need for a greater attention span than that needed for a traditional lecture theatre approach. For those with ADHD or otherwise have the attention span of a goldfish, I’d say a vocational being-there-is-everything learning approach is still best.

    As for COOLs, they’re a supplement to existing teaching models rather than a wholesale replacement, for the simple fact that COOLs don’t replicate physical immersiveness.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — August 25, 2016 @ 7:05 pm

  31. It has a lot of potential but it relies on having the skills to do it well.

    Danyl’s scepticism comes from watching universities doing it badly. And if Universities can’t manage it….

    But then Universities are run by idiots these days.

    But there are people doing it well. Opponents of this Natioal imitative could finding out who those people are.

    Comment by NeilM — August 25, 2016 @ 7:09 pm

  32. PS. The single biggest obstacle to vocational training in NZ is the perception that it’s some kind of “Old Labour” relic. Try telling that to the Germans.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — August 25, 2016 @ 7:17 pm

  33. I’ve been a mature age university student for several years now, and the entire time it’s been online as well as in person. Almost everything already is delivered digitally in some form. I could sit at home and do entire courses. But I don’t because it’s just not as good. I’ve tried both ways, and it just simply never worked out that I could do as well from purely remote learning as I could from active participation in person.

    A huge part of it is the human interaction with other students.

    I think some people can learn well that way, but not most people. Nor do they want to. The lectures are chock full of students, both young and mature age, even though all of them could sit at home and do it all. Despite all the trouble and of commuting, most people would prefer to do it over sitting at home, sad and lonely, grinding away at some mentally difficult task. That’s a recipe for depression and dropping out, for the most part.

    So yeah, once again, a technological solution that delivers something quite a bit more shit than what was already there, except in a minority of cases. Seems to be the way when it’s technology designed to *replace* things. The technology that leads to really important change typically seeks to provide something that didn’t exist at all before, rather than just replace something with something cheaper.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 25, 2016 @ 7:20 pm

  34. When remote learning is looked at as simply enhancing the existing system, making it available to some people for whom it is otherwise impractical, then it’s great, an actual boon. I certainly appreciated those times I couldn’t get to lectures to watch the recordings. I’ve just sat an exam today for a subject that I did mostly like this, due to the very inconvenient times the lectures were on. But I know this: Had the lectures been on a better times, I’d have gone and I’d have got more out of it.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 25, 2016 @ 7:27 pm

  35. “QED of the Tory chip on the shoulder…”

    I didn’t realise you were a prisoner of Mother England, Sanctuary, like the others who use that term to describe the National Party. Find good English beer and the Daily Mail hard to find in Spain?

    Comment by Tinakori — August 25, 2016 @ 7:43 pm

  36. Distance learning seems to work pretty well for Australia’s outback children.

    http://www.assoa.nt.edu.au/

    Comment by Gerrit — August 25, 2016 @ 8:10 pm

  37. The use of the word Tory as a pejorative description of supporters of right wing politics is common in Australia and NZ. Also, it seems to piss national party supporters off to be called Tory more than a little, another thing to recommend it’s frequent use.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 25, 2016 @ 11:06 pm

  38. The use of the word Tory as a pejorative description of supporters of right wing politics is common in Australia and NZ

    Yes, I use it from time to time, and I’ve noticed on Kiwiblog that commenters don’t appreciate its use.🙂

    Comment by Ross — August 26, 2016 @ 6:37 am

  39. I’m not sure if I want a party with an education policy that is largely driven by malice and revenge in government.
    Comment by Sanctuary — August 25, 2016 @ 4:31 pm

    Policy in other areas on the other hand….
    I can really see Sanctuary sitting there writing this – with the usual smoke coming out of his ears. The “I’m not sure” is what makes it truly funny.

    As far as this policy is concerned it’s just more top-down shite from National. But given the way the internet has disrupted information-based services in the last couple of decades you’d be mad to dismiss it’s impact on schools.

    While university lectures have always, and likely will always exist, my eldest son already just watches many from his laptop at home, journeying in for the tutorials and lab-classes that require hands-on attention from both teachers and students. How much longer before this model is happening at high school? I already have a Y13 daughter who has study periods, where it’s quite permissable to come home early or start school late. It’s far more like university than my high school experience was.

    Eventually it will be a blend: some courses and subject matter will be accessed out of school via the Web – perhaps even game-playing based learning – and some will be in-class, where working with other students is required and where teachers are trained to step in. Hopefully the teacher’s unions and other educational groups are already thinking about this rather than just imagining they can preserve the factory routine of five-days-a-week-six-hours-per-day-in-a-dedicated-building.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — August 26, 2016 @ 8:20 am

  40. ‘If there was a killer app that was going to disrupt lecture and classroom based teaching you’d think it would have been the invention of Movable Type, back in the 15th Century. That drastically lowered the cost of information transfer. For the first time in history people could read a book at a lesser cost than attending a lecture. And yet the four hundred years since then people are spending more and more of their lives in lecture and classroom based teaching. Why is that?’

    When more info is made freely available, then more people learn stuff and have an interest in attending to higher learning?

    Comment by unaha-closp — August 26, 2016 @ 9:37 am

  41. >journeying in for the tutorials and lab-classes that require hands-on attention from both teachers and students.

    In the case of a lot of students, that’s pretty much solved by just living near the campus. What’s actually unnecessary in the picture is not the campus, but living out in the suburbs. With high schools this is even more so, since there are a lot more of them and you’re meant to live near them. Indeed, if you really want to go to one out of zone, surely the main reason is so that you can actually go to the physical campus – why sign up for some expensive pluty school and then not even go to get all the networking, sports, inspiration and discipline from the teachers, etc that make it so compelling?

    It’s funny what an influence the suburban mentality has on something as unconnected as getting an education. Adults feel the pain of the commute and translate that onto their kids, putting their own dreams of telecommuting into the picture, but the kids don’t necessarily see it that way. For them, the pain is being required to live at home (when they’re adults). When it comes to high school, the getting to and from is often social in itself, and being there is very much so.

    None of this says that internet resources aren’t a good thing to have. They’re just not a complete replacement for physical attendance except in situations that are actually extreme consequences of the choices of the parents.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — August 26, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  42. When more info is made freely available, then more people learn stuff and have an interest in attending to higher learning?

    Ha. You must have come across the internet meme about how you might explain modern life to a person who had time-travelled from the 1950s. You might say something like “I carry in my pocket a small device that can access the entire sum of human knowledge. I use it to look at pictures of cats and abuse people I have never met.” (See previous comment threads on this blog for confirmation of that factoid, minus the cats)

    Also worth noting that ALL schools use the net ALL the time these days. But your average unsupervised 13 or 14 year old ain’t using it to read about Plato.

    Comment by McNulty — August 26, 2016 @ 10:01 am

  43. 37.The use of the word Tory as a pejorative description of supporters of right wing politics is common in Australia and NZ.

    On one side we have traditionalist conservatives who are aghast at the potential of change away from the base structure of a Victorian type institution. And on the other side are new ideas or approaches adopting the technology and science of the modern world.

    Tories versus progressives.

    Comment by unaha-closp — August 26, 2016 @ 10:04 am

  44. Maybe this is just me, but I get the feeling this amounts to a few influential people telling Nat cabinet ministers that they’re keen on getting some charter school cash, but would prefer not to go to the trouble and expense of setting up an actual school, so could the government maybe change the law to allow people to franchise some shite online schooling programme from the States and get paid for being a school? With the various ministers deciding that it’s a great idea, because online is the way of the future, anyone who thinks education needs teachers can be written off as a luddite, and as an added bonus it’s a fat one up the teacher unions.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — August 26, 2016 @ 11:06 am

  45. I think there’s a big difference between tertiary level (where students are expected to be a long way along the track to independent learning, as well as being developmentally adult and not requiring further socialisation*) and the pre-16 level, where students are primarily learning to learn and becoming human beings.

    * except Otago students

    Comment by richdrich — August 26, 2016 @ 11:18 am

  46. You see, I have been around long enough in both the education sector and the workforce to have worked out that all these people peddling the end of the structured work day or the blended life/learning mix or trumpeting the end of bricks and mortar schools in favour of the interweb of every opportunity and basically just snake oil merchants full of shite, and usually with a vested interest in being engaged as education “futurists”. After all, no one ever made their name as the Harold Robbins of the education Tedtalk circuit by saying there is nothing new to see.

    Like the supposed fate of the printed codex book, which has been around for 550 years and whose greatly exaggerated demise is apparently due to Kindle e-readers, the Anglo-Saxon obsession with magical technological utopian solutions to human problems means the declarations of the demise of the teacher in the classroom as the primary and best disseminator of human knowledge to the next generation is a long way off yet.

    Comment by Sanctuary — August 26, 2016 @ 11:38 am

  47. @richdrich – you would not believe the effort I have to undo all of this and to instill Übermenschen philosophical concepts with my 4 and 6yr old.
    You can only take Nietzsche influenced anarchism so far with fart jokes.

    Comment by Gregor W — August 26, 2016 @ 11:49 am

  48. “The use of the word Tory as a pejorative description of supporters of right wing politics is common in Australia and NZ by people who still inhabit a mental universe located somewhere between Lands End and John O’Groats”

    There, I fixed it.

    The use of the Irish genteelism “shite” is also a giveaway. Say what you mean, for God’s sake.

    Comment by Tinakori — August 26, 2016 @ 12:27 pm

  49. Feck off, ya gobshite tory eejit..

    Comment by richdrich — August 26, 2016 @ 12:53 pm

  50. http://www.otagonet.school.nz/

    Distance learning by VC already happens at Area Schools and other isolated schools serving secondary students across NZ, mostly for students at NCEA level doing subjects that are not taught at the school because of small student numbers. The lesson from my school (where I sit on the Board) is that even capable students are best to stick with two subjects (at most three), they need to be incredibly dedicated and self-motivated, and that they benefit from having a teacher on the ground to help with basic queries. They have to be confident to ask questions and deal with teachers who they have never met by email, phone or videoconference. The other lesson is that we as a school have no control over the quality of the teacher at the other end of the VC – often, a student feels that they have no way to raise issues of teacher quality, no matter how many times we tell them that they do. Primary school students will have a devil of a time.

    This is a nice idea in theory, but in practice it will be a significant amount of money, accessed by a relatively small number of NZ students, who will only succeed with adequate oversight. My impression is that they set these COOLs up using public money, shake out the kinks using NZ students, and cash in by selling the lessons to overseas students who will pay through the nose for access to the NZ education system. If there is a market for overseas students accessing such a system, that is great and should be encouraged, but that is something that private businesses should do, with no public investment.

    Comment by Paul Rau — August 26, 2016 @ 12:54 pm

  51. the demise of the teacher in the classroom

    If that occurs, then of course it may mean that the position of Minister of Education becomes redundant. Any idea from Hekia Parata that causes her lose her job deserves serious consideration.

    Comment by Ross — August 26, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

  52. @43: on the other side are new ideas or approaches adopting the technology and science of the modern world

    Except these are not new ideas. In the long-standing tradition of tory initiatives, they have been tried and found wanting elsewhere (in this case in the US). However, and also in the long-standing tradition of tory initiatives, someone somewhere stands to make a shitload of money out of it.

    Here’s a litmus test: When this all kicks off, how many children/grandchildren of government MPs are likely to quit school immediately and embrace those private online providers from their bedrooms at home? Not too many, I would guess.

    Comment by McNulty — August 26, 2016 @ 1:44 pm

  53. The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works,


    Why The Web Won’t Be Nirvana
    Clifford Stoll, Newsweek, Feb 27, 1995

    And of course that such portentous thoughts can be so easily retrieved from the memory hole that Mr Stoll would probably like to consign it to, is also down to the Web.

    Mmmmmm…… Schadenfreude. Tasty, tasty schadenfreude.

    Comment by Tom Hunter — August 28, 2016 @ 9:28 am

  54. I always call to mind this piece on jeb bush and his dismantling of public education in Florida when watching this government,s machinations with our education system

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/26/testing-time

    Comment by mag rodaigh — August 28, 2016 @ 12:58 pm

  55. No wonder the PM’s gaze is to hollow these days, imagine walking into cabinet with cupboards that intellectually bare.

    Comment by Michael — August 30, 2016 @ 12:52 am


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