“Online teaching isn’t working”

Looks like we have a problem with conclusion validity.

The papers are full of how students are getting behind because they can’t go to school during the pandemic.

But the conclusion for many of the articles is the same: online teaching isn’t working.

Hold your horses, boys!

Let’s review what’s happened. Most schools turned to distance education with teachers who were mostly inexperienced teaching online, and many had never had an interest in doing so. And it happened because of a pandemic that has turned the world upside down and caused untold damage to people’s lives.

That is not a controlled study of the effectiveness of online teaching.

Online teaching has been working just fine, thank you, before this March. Here’s a recent review of the literature on efficacy. Distance education didn’t just emerge like a new high tech product to clean your floor. It’s an entire discipline of study and practice. Its affordances and inadequacies have been studied for decades (or over a century if you include correspondence courses).

Concluding that online teaching isn’t working because a bunch of people have been thrown into it, unwilling and unprepared during a global pandemic, is akin to a non-pilot saying that airplanes can’t fly because he’s sitting in an airplane that has three gallons in the tank, pushing levers but just getting strange noises.

Which makes me wonder in whose interest it is to give online teaching in general a bad rap. Is it just the folks who don’t believe in the science of pandemics? The media outlets catering to worn-out parents who want their kids out from underfoot? The makers of chalk and lunchboxes?

It certainly isn’t those of us who’ve been doing it, and studying it, all this time.

 

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