What Have Educators Learned About Distance Learning?

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  • #151
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Given that you have been exposed directly to the grading procedure, I wondered if you think the method used this year is a fair one? Maybe it is the best they could do with the limited time available to put in plans, but myself and a few friends are quite worried for results day because it seems that literally anything could happen. The grading system seems fairly brutal, and every day there are stories about grades being moved up, or down, or sideways, and at this point I think I would have been a lot happier just doing the exams :rolleyes:

There is always the option to re-take in Autumn, I guess... if you're willing to drop your university application and re-apply next year :confused:
I got some of my results back today - a few of my students have been moved up, none have been moved down.

I did my best to give fair grades, realistic grades, and not to be over optimistic because I was worried that submitting grades which were too good would result in all being downgraded (after all, the exam board doesn't know individual students). In my favour was that last year's cohort did very well, so if we were compared to that it wouldn't hurt us.

I think we have to be pragmatic about this. It's a first, the boards had to do something to just prevent teachers around the world giving too high grades to their students. Those who are really unhappy will get another chance but I think Universities will be taking all of this into consideration as well. if you've missed your offer and predicted grades, I think they will look at others aspects of your application including the grades predicted at the time.

Of course, some people will lose out. If you, or your class, are significantly better than previous year groups in your school, you might not get the credit for that. If there's been a change of teacher who suddenly made everything better this year (or who predicts better!) that might not be reflected.

I expect some of my A-level students to be disappointed. Those who coasted last year, hoping to do the work this year - and who HAVE done the work and WOULD have got much better grades this year - might be marked down on the basis of their grades from last year. There's a lesson there for all of us, I think.

In short, I don't think it's ideal, but I can't think of a better way it could have been done under the circumstances.

Best of luck when the time comes anyway!
 
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  • #152
etotheipi
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That's fairly reassuring, actually. You're right, there'll probably be a bit of upset, but given the circumstances it's probably not a bad solution (definitely much better than anything like "online exams" ?:), which was floated around for a little while earlier this year), and I'm sure universities will be somewhat lenient. Guess we'll just need to be patient :smile:. Thanks for the comprehensive reply!
 
  • #153
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There's a huge fuss at the moment in scotland, where I started my teaching, over the grades which have been allocated this year.
The Australian National University will made an offer of admission you a year before you graduate high school. They will admit you on Grade 11 results while you are completing Grade 12. You need good Year 11 results though.
 
  • #154
anorlunda
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Josh Blackman is a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston. He doesn't mince words.

https://reason.com/2020/08/18/how-many-universities-built-covid-potemkin-villages-to-lure-students-back-to-campus/#comments said:
Over the past six months, cash-strapped Universities have spent untold amounts of money preparing to bring students back to campus. Colleges established elaborate plans on how student would interact in "pods." Classrooms were built on tennis courts to ensure there was enough space for learning. Modular housing units were constructed to ensure there was space for quarantining students. Labs dedicated critical resources for rapid-response testing. Intrusive "contact-tracing" apps were mandated, to ensure people did not socialize outside of their pods. Now, after barely a week on campus, COVID-19 outbreaks have come rampant. Campus after campus has shut down. None of these events should be surprising.

May I offer a cynical take? At some point last spring, universities recognized that if they shifted to an all-online model, they would see a drop in enrollment. And quite rationally, they recognized they could not afford that revenue cut. So the universities decided that they would have to prove to the students that there was a plan in place to safely open up campus. And they built these elaborate structures and implemented intricate plans to welcome back students. All of these efforts relied on overwhelmingly rosy assumptions about human behavior–assumptions that are inconsistent with everything we know about how 18-21-year-olds behave. Certainly, some of these universities recognized that if the students broke protocol, there would be a rash of positive tests. But they moved forward anyway.

In hindsight, these expensive efforts look like little more than Potemkin Villages. The universities crafted together fancy marketing plans to put students at ease, and prevent them from withdrawing. Now, students have paid their seat deposits. Tuition has been remitted. With the financials settled, it is far simpler to simply pull the trigger, and shift everyone online.

Last year we saw litigation over tuition rates. I suspect the litigation this term will be far more severe: How many colleges misled students into enrolling, knowing full well that there was no reasonable chance the semester would proceed in person? I would not be surprised if we see some RICO actions

My niece was forced by her college to sign a paper promising to pay full tuition whether or not she receives any instruction.

When I started this thread, I expected the fight for institutional survival to overwhelm the urge of good teachers to just do a good job teaching. Real teachers also need to be paid their salaries.
 
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A few years ago I posted a thread about eliminating school buildings and having teachers come to student's homes instead. (It was in response to school shootings, and the generally nasty environment that high schools have become.). My observation was that eliminating brick and mortar buildings would free up enough money to hire an enormous number of new teachers. Lots of people seemed to find the idea quite threatening. But now here we are.

Trying to repurpose existing lessons is likely to frustrate everyone - A better approach should be "how do we teach the parents to teach their kids." And for THAT to work, you can't have both parents working full time. We have built our society up in a brittle way that cannot respond well to change.
 
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  • #156
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Maybe the stuff about changing society is a bit much. But we need flexibility in order to learn what works in this environment and what doesn't. That needs to include the ability to reject rigid lesson plans in favor of teaching things that can actually be taught online. Otherwise you are just going to frustrate kids and make them think of learning as pointless punishment.
 
  • #157
rsk
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The challenge for me will be practical work. How to devise practical work for students to do at home, which is meaningful and educational. I have a few ideas but by no means enough to replace an in-school practical plan. Fortunately there are a few decent apps which allow some 'virtual' practical work to be done but that raises the issue again of the ineuality between those who have devices and good connection at home, and those who don't or who have to share. By far the most successful of our strategies last school year was the live online class but that doesn't work for all students, unfortunately.
 
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What I found perplexing, is the idea to force students to buy lab equipment to preform the experiments at home and still charge full price for the course. Im sure there are modules out there for download, and if not, should these modules not be created by the department. It shouldn't be too hard to create if you get everyone together to work on it...


Moreover, student fees associated with services that a student cannot access.

For public state universities, is there any legal violation present? Not sure if institutions that receive federal grants are under strict legal obligations to follow the clause in the funding.
 
  • #159
rsk
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I work on the basis of 'things you probably already have at home' or which are cheap and easy to get hold of - although I do assume that all have access to a smartphone which, in my case is true, but isn't for all schools, I realise.
 
  • #161
symbolipoint
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I do assume that all have access to a smartphone which, in my case is true, but isn't for all schools,
BAD Assumption, although you did follow that quote with a "not for all schools I realize".
 

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