Home Again

Home Again

Private and Public Prospects
for
Internet Delivered Learning @ Home

By
Dale Mann and the Ideal Group


Education is struggling. Families under great pressure. Digital media is in the middle of everything. Kids still want to have fun. As 21st Cent approaches these four facts are key to constructing ed policy. They should all be considered and not worked on separately.
This white paper argues for re-balancing of home-school policies and placing learning at the center of consideration. It wants to provide Internet delivered alternatives for learning in the home. It wants to connect home and school to culture on WWW. It wants to construct a curriculum which is constructivist in nature. It wants kids to ant to learn, to have access anytime anywhere, and to have fun.


Part One: The Family as Educator

distinguishes between school and education. Parents and homes were always are still sources of teaching and learning in spite of the recent invention of public schools. We confuse education with schooling.

The Power of the Family as Educator: Basic Dynamics speaks of James S Coleman's 1996 landmark analysis of schooling (570,000 pupils, 60,000 teachers, 4,000 school districts). To that point Feds anted to upgrade school buildings and target low income families. Generally run-down schools and poorly qualified teachers were considered the chief impediment to educational achievement. Instead Coleman found that family background had more effect than anything else. He found schools have little effect on kids as compared to family, home, culture, etc. School was not enough to compensate for other problems. Still reformers insisted on trying to fix education through the schools. Public policy makers ignored "home" as an educational source. Feds thought schools could "compensate" for low income folks by giving the cultural diversity not gotten from home. We need to look beyond school to educate.

The Learning Tools of Families: "Family Capital" discusses five studies which essentially agree that home is crucial in educating children. Coleman said schools were important but homes were more important. He declared at-home sources, called ;Family Capital" were the deciding elements. 1. Learning-related items in home: reading material. 2. parent's education. 3. Other items in home like TV, telephone, car. The family capital does not educate it is a proxy and demonstrates ability and reality of families involvement. Today the capita is seen as computer, study desk, dictionary, number of books, parent's education. Coleman continued to measure cultural groups. In 6 of 8 groups items in home were related to achievement. In 5 of 8 reading material was significant to achievement. But generally parents who have more education also have more resources and time is found to help kids and educate them. Another study Armor in 1972 concurred with Coleman's study in saying that schools were not enough, but still public policy folks continued with school reform ignoring home. In 1979 another group, Bridge, Judd, Moock, asked what makes a difference and which factors make a difference and why? Their study differed in only one respect that they saw the stud char as the most important input related to achievement. However, home was next. Once again family as educator was cited and yet it was still ignored by public policy makers. Curriculum enhancement is still considered the way to go to improve stud achievement. All studies arrived at:


Laurence Steinberg (1996) adds that stud achievement is due more to conditions outside school than to inside school. Outside of school is probably more influential. Parents seem to know better. In Gallop poll on public attitudes about education 64% put family as #1 followed by school.

A Question Never Asked: School Improvement or Home Improvement? works with two roads: school and home. All data proved home to be the more effective, yet all the funds went to the schools, the less educating power. Reminds one of Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken":

History proves this: school is a secular religion, school is omnibus social and economic problem solver, economy bad = poorly trained grads, racial probs solved in schools. Congress saw social and culture problems and thought schools. They do not craft education as much as school programs.
25% of US pop is student. 55% work in schools. 45% of state workers in schools. Thus lobbying power of workers outweighs the parents who are not as professional in lobbying. So schools get it all. Focusing on school is reinforced in US culture and Constitution which walls off home from state influence.
Billions targeted on schools and yet 30 years later little achieved in school reform. One new strategy is to re-balance the various educators and add power of the home to the work of the school. Consider Charter schools and vouchers. Feds do have a study, Building Knowledge which considers computers as part of the solution to all problems in education. they can make all classrooms and all subjects better. Digital family rooms and classrooms that extend outside school. Re-balancing school/home will happen with telecommunications, entertainment, and homes as sites for learning. we would not give up on education but would add more learning power to schools.

The Power of the Family as Educator

Family influences on educational achievement outlines how parents play many roles in kid's learning, but not all increase achievement. No evidence that parents involved with school decision making improves achievement. Ayo Harrington. Parents as educators does show achievement. Achievement can be seen through wider coordination between home, school, and community resources.

General statements based on studies show that parental involvement in children's learning helps. parents who help kids provide nurturing attitude crucial to achievement and parents who are involved have higher % of kids who achieve. Further, children who achieve have parents who held high ed expectations and aspirations, put pressure on to achieve, give more academic guidance, show higher degree of interest in kids.

Time Spent Learning declares that the amount of learning increases with the amount of time spent learning. Summer months are a step back for kids. How can we find more time to learn? Do we have to look to schools to increase learning time? How about home?

Homework finds 60% elem kids spend 2 hrs/night on hw. Homework is a tough business. Kids hate it, teachers hate grading it, and parents hate enforcing it. Mixed messages: help your kids with hw and don't put pressure on.

Time Spent in Non-School learning is 3 hours /week.

The Emotional Context of Parenting discusses working mothers. Is home an environment for learning? 1/5 parents attend school programs. 1/3 parents have no idea about kid's work at school. 1/6 parents don't care if kid gets good grades. Epstein study showed parents who are involved have higher achieving kids. Home is a powerful learning environment.

Home Schooling: records 500,000 children are home-schooled, which replicates curriculum goals.
At-home teaching happens intentionally or unintentionally. Parents ask, direct, and instruct. Expecting more is difficult. Parents have delegated teaching to schools.
At-home Learning suggests a more gentle, inferential expectation.

Summary:

The Home-School-Home Connection of formal and informal efforts by school and parents provides the most powerful way to add skills and knowledge for children. Finding ways to include more home has yet to be explored. Dewey said education should mirror "the best and wisest parent."


21st Century Learning: Constructivist Learning in an Information Society

Online interactive technology creates new ops for learning which is disengaged from geography, time, and resource constraints. New communications, computing, and information technologies have potential to renovate education. Work and play look more like idealized models of academic scholarship. They are collaborative, inquiring, innovative, engaging in new knowledge, ideas, and experiences. Organizing data in new ways requires new technical and intellectual skills which teachers will have to provide in the 21st Century.

Information, Communication, and Success addresses the ease and difficulty with which we can achieve success. We know more and can do more and on the other hand there is so much more to do. Technology presents new economic opportunities. As access increases so does diversity. Managing info is becoming more difficult as knowledge acquisition is growing exponentially. Logical method of maintaining info is with computers. Managing social complexity is also a major consideration. With the world pop changing as white pop decreases and Hispanic and asian grows new methods of education are needed. Technology is changing the job skills market. Low skills jobs are disappearing. This increasing diversity requires new learning paradigms.

John Dewey and Progressive Education fostered participation of the learner. He forecast constructivism in a "closed" classroom. Implementing his progressive theories was hard and deemed impossible. But the computer has changed that.

Learning Theory for the 21st Century suggests that as society changes so should the way people are prepared. Constructivist learning theory is most appropriate.

Constructivist learning involves the student in his own learning through inquiry and inventing own ideas, internalizing info, modifying understanding, and developing complex ideas. The student constructs his own knowledge. Experimental play and collaboration are cornerstones. Play is mental exploration involving novel combos of ideas, creating situations, and constructing hypothetical outcomes. Collaboration means they share, have reciprocating ideas, peers are resources not competitors. Cooperation fosters:

Learning is an "authentic activity." Messiness prevails. There is a crisscrossing of knowledge, diversity demonstrates patterns.

Constructivist models Institute for Learning Technologies (ILT) and Visual Language Laboratory (VLL) Bank Street. ILT encourages "study support environment" SSE which promotes activity through Interpretation Construction ICON which has seven characteristics:


VLL sees it as "child-driven learning environment" (CDLE) and has four steps: Both ICON and CDLE are project-oriented and an altered role for teachers.

Curriculum in the 21st Century will see the an electronic school supporting cultural literacy with technology making lots of material available when not available before. Curriculum will change. Learner's reliance on acceptance moves to analytical. Learning how to learn.

Cumulative curriculum releases the learner from pre- conceived ideas, time, and space. Continuous and ubiquitous availability of knowledge erodes grades. Students should learn cumulatively. A computer-based curriculum should tolerate an infinite number of paths of inquiry with clear feedback. learning should not simply produce knowledge, it should elicit understanding. Questions which guide the production of cumulative curriculum:

Interactive, multi-modal learning is the integration of everything into one complex system for more efficient accessibility. In the multi-modal system students become more responsible for making sense of material and for exploring. In the multi-modal system students will face more material than they can learn so they will learn to manage. This means teamwork, division of work creating projects.

Project pedagogy CyberEnglish is such an example.


Part Two: Connecting the Home

The Internet Technology in the Home depends on bandwidth and ubiquity, ready access. The Internet is a platform equalizer. CD- ROM's provide alternative to Internet. Satellite delivery is another alternative.


Part Three: Instructional Technology

Since technology develops so fast studies published in 1995 were written in 1994 describing data from 1993 collected on machines and software from the 1980's. In the digital world ten years is a long time.

The Power of Instructional Technology in Schools shows ed tech has significant impact on achievement; has positive effects on student attitudes; is effective depending upon stud pop, teacher's role, how stud are grouped; stud access to tech.

The Power of Connecting Schools AND Homes speaks to schools which control inputs from forma teaching and learning AND home which controls "family capital." Achievement is a function of the interaction of these two. Schools are more effective for children of strong family backgrounds. Technology helps.

Elem Stud Who use a computer at Home and/or at School shows 48% only at school, 3% only at home, 18% at both, 25% at neither.

Technology for Social equity not realized yet. Minorities on wrong side of Digital Divide. Knowledge is power and its distribution isn't democratic yet. learners always travel to where education is dispensed. Technology may change that provided all can get wired. Digital is color blind etc. It takes learning to the learner.

The Power of Technological "Serious Play" Curriculum of the Home finds hw should be fun otherwise it won't get done. Parents wanted serious play opportunities. CD-ROM educational apps are great: Oregon Trail, etc. Home-school-technology partnerships offer parents and teachers ways to extend time and increase student achievement.

Is a curriculum of the home available today? Yes it is emerging. See Cyber Library and follow Teacher Internet Resources and Schools of Distinction to see examples.


Part Four: The Home as an Educational Market

I don't think folks have really understood how to use the Internet and technology correctly in educational environment. Americans are impatient and want immediate satisfaction and gratification.