Thursday, February 3, 2011

K12 Technology comes to Higher Education

College professors don't like to be called teachers.  At least most of them don't. The word 'teacher' often connotes 'K-12 classroom leader'.  And there IS a difference between the K12 and the college classroom.  One of the trends which is narrowing that difference is the use of technology.

For instance, school districts have widely adopted smartboards for K-12 classroom use.  Engaging students via the use of technology.  However, many of these students may walk into a college classroom and see chalk boards and not smartboards.

While faculty cannot change the infrastructure of their institutions as it pertains to instructional technology resources, there is a growing number of open resources available to teachers.  The federal government funds a website,,  which provides a suite of tools for classroom use.

The site offers ready-to-use lessons, quizzes, rubrics, web posters, and more. In my experience,  I don't use every tool I play around with online, but I typically get a few good ideas in the process.  The K12 'technologies' aren't a perfect fit for higher ed, but with some tweaking, they can be.

Speaking of which, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, K12 Inc, the largest online curriculum provider for K-12 courses is teaming up with Blackboard (no explanation needed) to offer remedial course to colleges.  According to the article:
The companies say their plan will offer a new way for students who lack basic skills to get caught up. Blackboard would sell online courses that are designed and taught by employees of K12. The courses would be delivered on the Blackboard course-management system. It is the first time that the company has sold full courses, rather than just software to deliver them.
So now, the teachers may invade higher education.  Katherine Boswell, director of community college policy for the Center for Education Policy and Practice, is quoted as saying:
For so long we’ve been embarrassed about” how many students need remediation ... [W]e don’t like to talk about it.
So what do you think of this? Are college professors unable to teach remedial courses?  Is it a good idea to outsource college courses to virtual colleagues?  What do you think? 

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