Imagine if every high school and college student, rich and poor, was taught by a dream team of the world's most effective teachers. That sounds like hype, But I believe it can be done. Here’s how I propose schools go about it.
What if a company or, perhaps, the federal government combed the nation — or even the world — to find a handful of teachers highly honored for excellence in instruction? I am not talking about academic superstars. I'm talking about instructional superstars: individuals who, whatever the content, greatly improve students' critical thinking skills and inspire them to become effective, lifelong learners.
Now, let’s say these superstar teachers would be hired to develop an online course as follows:
1. In a teleconference, they divide up the course so each is responsible for teaching the part of the course s/he teaches best.
2. Each of them, in collaboration with a computer programmer, develops his or her part of the course.
Especially in social science and humanities courses, the teachers in a dream-team-taught course need to present diverse perspectives.
Each lesson is created in three versions: slow-paced (perhaps 60 minutes), mid-paced (30-minutes) and fast-paced (15 minutes).
Instructors are encouraged to, as appropriate, supplement lectures with questions, graphics, video, one-question quizzes, and links to related content among other features.
Multiple-choice homework and exams would be included to help make sure the course is self-contained and does not require a live person at each school or college. Multiple-choice questions too often test memorization, but that is not inevitable. Careful item development can ensure that critical thinking skills are assessed with automatically recorded grades. At the end, a course grade is awarded.
A high school or college could decide to award course credit based only on passing this type of course. Or the institution could require students to attend a discussion or lab section in-person, at which the student would also take exams. That could reduce cheating.
3. The online courses would be made available to high schools, colleges, and independent adults who'd like to take such courses.
In this scenario, every high school and college student could be educated by dream teams of the very finest instructors. If anything could enable education to be the magic pill we've long hoped it would be, wouldn't dream-team-taught courses be it?
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