24 Aug

11th grader helps explain classroom technology to WaPo readers

“Based on my year away from traditional school, I think we’re looking at a new method too narrowly. Classroom education is not a relic. And online learning isn’t a pale imitation of ‘real’ education, a dumbed-down version that endangers quality and excellence. The reality lies where it usually does — somewhere in between.”

(Via Why I spent 10th grade online – The Washington Post.)

I found the article thoughtful. It calls for looking for things that MOOCs can do better and using them there, but not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, because collaborative real-space environs allow education as well.

I think the author has the right of it.

18 Aug

Must read article: College for free? America can afford it

America already invests enough in college education that if the money were just given directly to the colleges as a per-student free education grant, everyone could go for free. It’s the complicated structure that makes it a mess (and banks parasite out in the middle). Some one actually ran the numbers, if you don’t think this is possible:

“Q. You write that free education is critical for democracy. Why?

A. As Thomas Jefferson argued, people in a democracy need to be able to understand the current issues in order to participate in an effective manner. If you don’t have a population that’s been well-educated, they’re not going to understand the difficult issues of the time and they’re not going to be able to participate fully.

Q. How much will all this cost? Where does that come from?

A. In 2008-09, there were 6.5 million full-time undergrads in public four-year universities and 4.3 million in community colleges. In 2009-10, the average cost of tuition, room and board at public four-year schools was $15,014; at two-year public colleges, it was $7,703. Do the math: The cost of making all public universities free would have been $97 billion in 2009-10, and $33 billion for all community colleges — total $130 billion.

That seems like a lot, but remember: In 2010, the federal government spent more than $30 billion on Pell grants and billions more to subsidize and service student loans. States spent $10 billion on financial aid and another $76 billion for direct support to universities. Include various state and federal tax breaks, and tax deductions for tuition, and it’s possible to make all public higher education free by just using resources more effectively.

It’s important to remember, too, that tuition rates are inflated because colleges charge more to subsidize financial aid for low-income students and to provide merit scholarships for high-scoring students. If we eliminated financial aid, and each college were given a set amount per student, we could significantly reduce the cost of making public higher education free in America. And the government would save billions in servicing and subsidizing student loans, as well as defaults.”

(Via College for free? America can afford it: Opinion | NJ.com.)

01 May

Transform ‘tough’ schools with arts

All the focus on STEM of late, and only what people might make, and tests, makes me nervous. Of course I’m not a STEM dude, but a lowly useless English major.

Still, I think the arts are transformative, and the trend in the US to cut them ignores stuff like this:

“That decision, which Bott made in his first year as the school’s principal, has paid off for the students. Three years later the campus, which serves a student population that’s 90 percent low income has higher attendance, fewer behavior issues, and academic achievement has soared. They’ve also been chosen as one of eight schools the Obama Administration’s pouring $2 million dollars into to boost arts education.”

(Via Want to Transform ‘Tough’ Urban Schools? Swap Security Guards For Art Teachers | Education on GOOD.)

18 Mar

Storified twitter exchange between Stross and me about China’s $250 billion edu initiative

Charles Stross and I were both thinking out loud on twitter about the implications of China’s announcement of $250 billion in educational investment: