Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seat time is not an academic measure

Michael Horn at the Innosight Institute has a great blog post on "Clearing the path for learning" today.  He takes on seat time and how it is holding back so many great students. 

"Rather than measure learning and move individual students along to new concepts as they master previous ones, it measures seat time and moves students along when they hit certain dates on a calendar. Time is fixed and the learning is variable, when what we need is a system that makes time variable so that the learning can be fixed."

It is funny how education advances just move in big circles.  Back in late 60's early 70's I learned to read through the SRA program.  You mastered a set of reading materials, answered the questions and moved on.  You moved at your own pace.  I loved it and moved up two grade levels in a year and to this day, love reading. 

Online learning is bringing this back - competency based pathways create greatly accelerated learning for today's students.  This is a struggle for online schools and classes - states don't know how to handle it when students can master the material in 90 days - but the class has to last 160 days in order to count as a class. 

Horn argues that the first step is to pilot programs that allow for competency based course completion as a proof of concept which is good, but not great.  If that's all we can get, then let's do it. 

But what we really need in the hyper competitive world we live in is to allow the technology to maximize student potential today.