The American attitude towards education is in a way much like the American attitude toward work; competition is good, strive to be number one, get to the top and work hard every day. In some cases this is good, competition is shown to increase desire for success and can actually push employees to be the best. It is socially rewarding to reach the top, we see success and want it for our own and seeing the average Joe get to the top inspires us to believe in ourselves more and push for success. That is for a career, not for education. Our attitude towards education is very similar to work, perhaps because we see education as a stepping stone towards a career but these are very different animals. Today we push our students to be competitive in a points based system of grading and to suck in as much knowledge as possible as it is being shoved down our throats. Neil Degrasse Tyson said on his Twitter on April 14, 2013 “When Students cheat on exams it’s because our school system values grades more than students value learning.” Indeed, one study through Stanford University shows as well that having a points based system for education in some ways encourages students to get high scores regardless the cost and missing the point of education for learning, and programs from Pearson online education are not helping us move past this.
The company has programs that Bellevue College uses regularly such as MyMathLab and MyLab and Mastering for students to do online homework and testing. Pearson reported that 60 percent of the company’s business is conducted in North America and is operating in more than 70 countries.
Throughout many college level math and science courses at Bellevue College, students will find MyMathLab or MyLab online offered through many of the instructors’ courses, and for some it works.
Some students have found that it helps them learn the material and prefer it over traditional methods. Other studies have shown students frustrated at poor user interface design and incorrect answer analysis forcing excess time spent on certain subjects. This design should be useful to all involved in academics and making education easier for the average student and professor, but it is not.
By removing the human aspect of learning and adding more stress of time and points to the student we are removing one part of the interaction between the professors and the students and indirectly encouraging poor student conduct online.
Some of the most successful classes I have ever taken have been with professors who understand that each student learns at their own pace, that homework should not be a mandatory part of the student’s final grade but rather that it is a means of assisting the student in further learning the material. In many ways having this program and system encourages less interaction with the students and more time in front of a screen.
The Pearson online program is taking us away from the things that make education special. We are treating our education as an assembly line manufacturing the labor force of the future. Technology for education in some cases works, Canvas is a great example of benefiting the students and the professors and keeping the community of education in the know, but Canvas is not a program for studying or test taking.
Pearson is, in many ways, the least amount of interaction a professor can have with a student while teaching a class. It is encouraging students to resort to any means necessary in gaining points and nurturing a culture of lethargy for our students. It strips the human aspect of education to the bone and dries up and thirst for knowledge students may have.
The traditional means of homework might not be perfect but at least with paper we can see the thought process of the students and see their growth. We can see where they struggle and where they succeed, and in the end the job of a professor is to help students grow. It is hard to help students grow stronger in something when they are using Google to answer their questions for them.