This January (2016), Fortune Magazine announced that Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, has launched a new $100-million-dollar fund to support education initiatives and other groups. The notice goes on to state:
“Hastings is the fund’s sole trustee while Neerav Kingsland, the former CEO of charter school supporter New Schools for New Orleans, is serving as CEO. The fund’s website explains its philanthropic mission: “Currently, too many children do not have access to amazing schools. Our aim is to partner with communities to significantly increase the number of students who have access to rich and holistic educational experiences.”
The “rich and holistic educational experience” is to be delivered by charter schools employing competency based education (CBE).
“Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning. Competency-based strategies provide flexibility in the way that credit can be earned or awarded, and provide students with personalized learning opportunities. These strategies include online and blended learning, dual enrollment and early college high schools, project-based and community-based learning, and credit recovery, among others.”
Instead of a structured course with a teacher, students will log into a computer and earn badges for demonstrating competencies in an online environment. “Personalized learning opportunities” is a euphemism for a computer based course delivered in isolation.
It is a terrible idea! The last thing a 21st Century student needs is to be shoved in front of another inert digital device. Students need to interact with “highly qualified” certificated teachers, adults who they can trust. Students need to; measure, calculate, weight, work in small groups, discuss ideas, write, and get professional feedback. Students need structure, stability and direction. None of this is provided online.
Technology in education is more of an expensive mirage than a useful tool and competency based education (CBE) is fool’s gold.