School of One – Pandora for Education

Longtime readers know that I’m really into listening to podcasts on the way into work. This morning I was listening to the Freakanomics Podcast and the topic was “How Is a Bad Radio Station Like the Public School System?”. The premise was that the modern classroom environment is not really that different from the classroom environment of 20 or 40 years ago. So let’s take a page from modern software companies like Pandora that allow users choice of what they want to help tailor education to an individual’s needs. Makes a lot of sense. New York Public Schools are giving this a try with a program called School of One. The goal is to have frequent testing to determine how well children are acquiring and retaining the information. The key difference is how they act on deficiencies. The child’s classroom schedule will change to a different mechanism for teaching the same topic. Maybe its the old fashioned teacher led path this time, or individual virtual learning, or group collaboration, or guided virtual learning. Teachers are then given the tools to track their students and help them find the right path to acquire the skill. In the little incubator lab, students were acquiring information between 4 and 8 time normal in 1/3 the time. That is pretty amazing. I guess this is one way of taking the Montessori method to the modern computer age. My sincerest hope is that education reform like this doesn’t end up like the Washington Irving Elementary in Chicago.


~ by shaunkime on May 25, 2010.

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