Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Horn Leaves out the Teacher, Again

In a recent Edusrge column, Michael Horn, urged the Los Angeles Unified School District to focus on actual learning—and not the time spent pouring over course material. Horn is urging this in response to the LA Times’ editorial calling to the University of California to set “clear and rigorous rules governing how much time and effort students must put into make-up courses in order to earn credit.”

Horn is right in pushing to have the focus be on actual student learning instead of some measurement of how much time a student spends on an assessment. But Horn makes the mistake he has so frequently made in the past; he leaves the teacher out of the teaching and learning process and substitutes a machine. Horn likes the idea of replacing teachers with machines; he’s a business guy, not a teacher. He can’t quite get his head around how technology can be used to enhance teaching and learning that includes a human teacher. He’s stuck on ways to use technology to replace teachers.

Assessment of student learning needs to be based on the student’s demonstration of learning. That student artifact of learning needs to be assessed by a teacher who knows the student and all of the various things that are particular to that student. The work the student uses to demonstrate their learning needs to be connected to their personal learning journey, not that of some arbitrary machine algorithm. Technology can, indeed, make assessment of student learning better than using measures of seat time, or screen time or mouse clicks I get that. But, we can’t leave out the teacher.

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