The major media outlets are writing a great deal of misleading articles about online learning. The foolhardy would be unwise to follow the advice of NY Times writer Mark Edmunson. His article, “The Trouble With Online Education”is flawed on so many levels I can’t even compel myself to rebut it. I’ll let my friend and colleague Michael Horn do that, which he did here. I have also seen some highly toxic, overly hostile-toned op-eds from teachers union-funded efforts that portray themselves as “public policy institutes.” Countless times, they misinterpret the words of people like Bill Gates, claiming he would replace all teachers with avatars and first person shooters. They have also tried to bastardize the intentions of Sal Khan, inventor of the Khan Academy. Khan has never tried to make himself a martyr or some symbol of a flipped classroom. All he did was show what the power of digital technology can do to help students learn, if we let it. All of this behavior is not surprising, because institutions fear change, and they will do whatever it takes to protect the status quo.
To make a small analogy, we’re seeing the folly of trying to televise the London Olympics as if we’re still in an analog world. NBC has been besieged with criticism for holding back key programming to air on a tape delayed basis in prime time. The problem is, the blogosphere has already announced the winners to the entire world, so who wants to watch Ryan Lochte win the gold medal when the outcome is already known? For some amusing commentary on this, feel free to read this article about it. What I am trying to illustrate is that you can’t keep following the same model when the world has changed. Public education is no exception.