Rupert Murdoch’s new idea for how to educate America.
by Carlo Rotella
"To get the most out of educational technology, teachers must combine those traditional classroom skills with new ones. And their repertoires will have to expand as the tablet’s powers grow. This fall, mastery might mean giving a quick quiz, then breaking up the students on the fly into groups based on their answers and sending each group a different exercise from the teacher’s tablet. In not too many years, it might mean using sophisticated pattern-recognizing algorithms to analyze data from homework, games, leisure reading, social media and biometric indicators to determine that one student should be guided to an interactive simulation of coral-reef ecology, another to an essay exercise built around a customized set of coral-reef-related vocabulary words and concepts, and others to something else.
"Are our overwhelmed, besieged, haphazardly recruited, variably trained, underpaid, not-so-elite teachers, in fact, the potential weak link in Amplify’s bid to disrupt American schooling? Klein said that we have 3.5 million elementary- and middle-school teachers. “We have to put the work of the most brilliant people in their hands,” he said. “If we don’t empower them, it won’t work.” Behind the talking points and buzz words, what I heard him saying was Yes."
Jim Lerman's insight:
Originally published on Sept. 12, 2013, this article summarizes well the pros and cons (and hopes and doubts) surrounding the launch of the first large-scale rollout of Amplify's tablet and curriculum system. The launch has suffered some well-publicized problems during the fall (after the article was published). Author Rotella seems to try hard to take an optimistic stance, but in the end, shows more skepticism than faith in the implementation strategy chosen by the company. He sees Amplify's (or at least CEO Joel Klein's) lack of confidence in teachers as a significant sticking point.