My View: Online courses need human element to educate
Online courses are proliferating, says Douglas Rushkoff, but will really succeed when they bring humanity to learning process
January 16th, 2013
03:00 PM ET

My View: Online courses need human element to educate

By Douglas Rushkoff, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Douglas Rushkoff writes a regular column for CNN.com. He is a media theorist and the author of "Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age" and "Life Inc.: How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back." He is also a digital literacy advocate for Codecademy.com. His forthcoming book is "Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now."

(CNN) - Education is under threat, but the Internet and the growth of Massive Open Online Courses are not to blame.

Like the arts and journalism, whose value may be difficult to measure in dollars, higher education has long been understood as a rather "soft" pursuit. And this has led people to ask fundamental questions about it:

What is learning, really? And why does it matter unless, of course, it provides a workplace skill or a license to practice? Is the whole notion of a liberal arts education obsolete or perhaps an overpriced invitation to unemployment?

The inability to answer these questions lies at the heart of universities' failure to compete with new online educational offerings - the rapidly proliferating MOOCs - as well as the failure of most Web-based schools to provide a valid alternative to the traditional four-year college.

Education is about more than acquiring skills.

When America and other industrialized nations created public schools, it was not to make better workers but happier ones. The ability to read, write and think was seen as a human right and a perquisite to good citizenship, or at least the surest way to guarantee compliant servitude from the workers of industrial society. If even the coal miner could spend some of his time off reading, he stood a chance of living a meaningful life. Moreover, his ability to read the newspaper allowed him to understand the issues of the day and to vote intelligently.

What we consider basic knowledge has grown to include science, history, the humanities and economics. So, too, has grown the time required to learn it all. While the modern college might have begun as a kind of finishing school, a way for the sons of the elite to become cultured and find one another before beginning their own careers, it eventually became an extension of public school's mandate. We go to college to become smarter and more critical thinkers while also gaining skills we might need for the work force.

Accordingly, we all wanted our sons and daughters to go to college until recently.

Read Rushkoff's full column


Filed under: MOOC • Technology • Voices
My View: Mental health services make schools safer
Springfield, Oregon, mourned after a student shot and killed two and injured dozens more at Thurston High School in 1998.
January 16th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

My View: Mental health services make schools safer

Courtesy Cathy PaineBy Cathy Paine, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Cathy Paine is a school psychologist in Springfield, Oregon, and chairwoman of the National Emergency Assistance Team for the National Association of School Psychologists. She was a panelist at the White House Summit on School Violence Prevention in 2006.

This week, Schools of Thought publishes perspectives on school security. Tomorrow, a school resource officer explains his role in campus security.

(CNN) - I received the emergency call at 8:14 a.m. on May 21, 1998.

Eighteen minutes earlier, a 15-year-old student had entered Thurston High School armed with two handguns and a semi-automatic rifle, and in a matter of seconds, killed two students and wounded 25 more, some sustaining life-long injuries. As a school psychologist in Springfield, Oregon, I was called because of my role on the district’s crisis response team. In a few short moments, we were transformed from innocent, unsuspecting individuals engaged in our normal routines into traumatized victims of a school shooting spree.

Those shots shattered our sense of safety and security; no longer could we say, “It can’t happen here.” While nothing in my 23 years of experience in education prepared me for the magnitude of that horrifying event, my training as a school psychologist did prepare me to know how to respond in the moment and to provide counseling support to students and staff in the days, weeks and months of recovery. The experience also reinforced for me how critically important mental health is to all aspects of the school safety and violence prevention continuum.

Since then, I have devoted significant energy to advocating for effective school safety, crisis prevention and intervention strategies at the local and national levels as a member of my district crisis team and as a member and chairwoman of the National Association of School Psychologists’ National Emergency Assistance Team. In both roles, I have learned some important lessons about what works, lessons I strongly believe should be our guiding principles as the nation grapples (once again) with the question, “How to we keep our students safe?” in the aftermath of the heartbreaking events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

FULL POST