Voices of the Dropout Nation: Online Teaching and Building Bridges Across Cultures

 

This post originally appeared on Dropout Nation, a site focusing on America’s dropout crisis and education reform. This is an expansion of a commentary on education that began four years ago for the Indianapolis Star with Left Behind, a series of editorials editorialist RiShawn Biddle co-wrote detailing Indiana’s — and the nation’s — dropout crisis. View Original >

 

When Susan Sawyers wrote an article for USA Today showcasing how some students are using online course to graduate on time and avoid dropping out, it highlighted one of the important benefits of online education: Providing equity in and access to high quality education.  A diverse population of students can take classes in order to retrieve credit for classes they may have failed in the past without dealing with the barriers that led them astray in the first place.

At the same time, there are potential pitfalls. As Sedef Uzuner wrote recently, online and distance  learning environments as as prone to aggravating cultural differences as traditional classrooms because students are removed from native cultures and interacting with students from different ones. So teachers in the online space need to be as thoughtful about race, ethnicity, gender, religion and even socioeconomic status and land of birth as those in their counterparts in old-school classrooms.

So we need teachers in the online space to be culturally responsive in their instruction. What do I mean by that? Culturally Responsive Online Teachers identify and utilize cultural strengths and resiliencies through aligned online teaching best practices, while utilizing diverse discourse structures and curriculum. These resiliencies vary across culture and experience.

As an example, many of our students have the resiliency to be highly adaptive and agile. They can look at a subway system many and easily navigate from place to place in a variety of ways. Many of our students have the resiliency to communicate across cultures. The common language at school might be English, while Tagalog is spoken at home. Even online students have a culture that they live in. They access a different language. They navigate and evaluate data constantly. Why shouldn’t we utilize these resiliencies?

Geneva Gay recently printed a new edition of her book, Culturally Responsive Teaching: Research, Theory and Practice, and it explains the many of the dispositions and practices teachers need to have. The next step is to ensure this sort of practice occurs consistent in online course instruction. Learning Management systems and the online structures need to be just as diverse as the cultures they serve. The typical paradigm of “reading and doing” that many online courses have needs to change. We are in danger of replicating a system for the online world that has not served all students in the brick and mortar world. Structures need to be examined and built to allow for diverse discourses that align with online teaching best practices.

We need to ensure we train our online educators with the tools and skills it takes to interact with students of diverse populations, especially as more students begin taking more courses online. All students have cultural strengths and resiliencies; we need to ensure we are using all these strengths, including the culture of online learners.

 

Previous edReformer Blogs

I have been blogging for Edreformer for quite some time now in a variety of topics from online learning, to standards based grade books, to project based learning. Edreformer describes itself as:

“A community of advocates, entrepreneurs, educators, policy makers, philanthropists and investors seeking to promote excellence and equity in education through innovation. EdRefomer serves as a catalyst for innovation in education by encouraging and promoting public and private investment in new learning tools, schools, and platforms.”

Here is a link all the my blogs, as well as the topics.

  1. Culturally Responsive Online Teaching: A Call to Action
  2. Supporting Student Voice and Choice Leads to Equity
  3. From Drop Out to Push Out in Online Learning
  4. Rethinking Time in Online Learning
  5. Why Standards-Based Gradebooks & What Next?
  6. Project-Based Online Learning-Natural Fit and Next Step

 

Voices of the Dropout Nation: Online Learning and Changing Education

 

This post originally appeared on Dropout Nation, a site focusing on America’s dropout crisis and education reform. This is an expansion of a commentary on education that began four years ago for the Indianapolis Star with Left Behind, a series of editorials editorialist RiShawn Biddle co-wrote detailing Indiana’s — and the nation’s — dropout crisis. View Original >

 

“Online classes are not for all students.” This comment quickly incites debate in the online education community and it’s all based in real life situations. It’s true, not all students have been successful in the online classroom. Some of them lack the time management skills or the independent motivation to get work done efficiently. Some have technology skills that need improvement. However, these are all excuses. Yes, excuses consistently used to create a push-out culture for online education.

David R. Dupper has many publications that reframe issues in school in terms of push-out instead of drop-out. Drop-out implies fault of the student, instead of push-out. By adopting the term “push-out” the onus is the many factors that contribute to student success – everything from teachers to curriculum. A recently published article shows many views on why online classes are not for everyone. In fact one interviewer claims “If a student is independent, disciplined or just busy with school, work, or both, an online course might be the best option for that individual.” Another claims “Read the assignment, do what you have to do and get it done. I recommend it if that’s the way you like to learn” These statements bother me.

These are examples of statements that foster a “drop-out” framework rather than a “push-out” framework. I ask these interviewees, “Why are you creating so many requirements and restrictions for students to be successful online?”  The first interviewee is creating a list of traits that a student must have. Instead we should train out students to have these skills. The second interviewee makes a large assumption – that all courses are structured in one a specific way.

Innovators are trying new ways of structuring courses, from gaming-based to project based. They are not simply the “read and do that assignment” stereotype. It is true that many courses are structure this way, and so should serve as a warning. In fact, this assumption no doubt came out of real experience of being exposed to the same type of course framework and pedagogical model. We need to make sure not to structure all online courses in the same pedagogical models. Game based courses are starting to be created, as done by Florida Virtual Schools in their Conspiracy Code American History Course.  Many courses are trying PBL models for their learning, as well as focus on 21st century skills such as collaboration and presentation. Innovative course design needs to continue, and the assumption that all online courses are the same should be mitigated.

We have the opportunity to avoid the replication of a broken system where the culture of “read and do” exist. We must take ownership of the walls that exist for students and seek to find ways to climb. Students should not adjust to the educational system.  Instead the online education system should adjust to its students.

From Drop Out to Push Out in Online Learning

 

This post originally appeared on edReformer, a community of advocates, entrepreneurs, educators, policy makers, philanthropists and investors seeking to promote excellence and equity in education through innovatation.  edRefomer serves as a catalyst for innovation in education by encouraging and  promoting public and private investment in new learning tools, schools, and platforms. View Original >

 

“Online classes are not for all students.” This comment quickly incites debate in the online education community and it’s all based in real life situations. It’s true, not all students have been successful in the online classroom. Some of them lack the time management skills or the independent motivation to get work done efficiently. Some have technology skills that need improvement. However, these are all excuses consistently used to create a push-out culture for online education.

David R. Dupper has many publications that reframe issues in school in terms of push-out instead of drop-out. Drop-out implies fault of the student, instead of push-out. By adopting the term “push-out” the onus is the many factors that contribute to student success – everything from teachers to curriculum. A recently published articleshows many views on why online classes are not for everyone. In fact, one interviewer claims “If a student is independent, disciplined or just busy with school, work, or both, an online course might be the best option for that individual.” Another claims “Read the assignment, do what you have to do and get it done. I recommend it if that’s the way you like to learn” These statements bother me.

These are examples of statements that foster a “drop-out” framework rather than a “push-out” framework.

Innovators are trying new ways of structuring courses, from gaming-based to project based. They are not simply the “read and do that assignment” stereotype. It is true that many courses are structure this way, and so should serve as a warning. In fact, this assumption no doubt came out of real experience of being exposed to the same type of course framework and pedagogical model. We need to make sure not to structure all online courses in the same pedagogical models. Game based courses are starting to be created, as done by Florida Virtual School in their Conspiracy Code American History Course.  Many courses are trying PBL models for their learning, as well as focus on 21st century skills such as collaboration and presentation. Innovative course design needs to continue, and the assumption that all online courses are the same should be mitigated.

We have the opportunity to avoid the replication of a broken system where the culture of “read and do” exist. We must take ownership of the walls that exist for students and seek to find ways to climb. Students should not adjust to the educational system.  Instead the online education system should adjust to its students.

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