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Online learning has uses — and abuses

It is with much interest and some concern that I read your Dec. 19 editorial “Online classes in schools aren’t just a way to save money,” regarding online learning at high schools in Manchester, N.H. As a high school teacher who uses “blended learning” environments, I can attest that online learning tools help many students, especially those who struggle in traditional classes. However, we must not lose sight of the bigger issue: Teachers are not being provided for students, and online learning is being used as a substitute for human interaction, and not an enhancement to classroom learning.

I teach history, which is probably what you meant by a "lecture" subject. However, to present my class as an online lecture section would go against years of research-based best practices and deny students the interactions and deep conceptual learning that my blended-model lecture videos make space for during the traditional school day.

Technology should be a method of enhancement, never a cost-efficient replacement for face-to-face learning experiences. I do not envy our civic leaders who must do more with fewer resources in the face of an overbearing Common Core mandate and mountains of costly standardized tests. It is my hope that we continue to pioneer and innovate with educational technology while also resisting the temptation to deny our students meaningful and personal educational experiences to save a quick buck.


Rob Powers
New Bedford