A Computer Based Learning System is the dream of plugging your student in to a software program, and downloading the lesson into that young brain, all the learning that is required. Well, the software does not achieve the dream, but it does provide learning with no in-person teaching, just videos. Several companies have produced a complete set of classes on their own technology platform, selling the software to public schools while also providing a diploma from their own private schools, using the same software.
Familiar names in the Computer Based Learning System market are ‘Edgenuity’ and ‘Acellus,’ but there are many others. This industry got its start providing public schools credit recovery classes. Public Schools offered this credit recovery software to students who had failed regular classes so to avoid holding students back. Much of the development went into assessing completion, so a student can see what percent of the class is completed, and what is left to go.
First let’s look at what is great about Computer Based Learning Systems. Students are not confused about what to do, they log on and do what is presented. The software providers claim they are mastery-based, which means if a student fails a quiz, they have to re-watch the video or re-read the provided content. Students can pace themselves, going slower in some topics, faster in others, they do not have to keep up with the class. Parents have minimal responsibility, just monitor their student is logging on and read the progress reports.
But let’s now consider the downside. The curricula is proprietary, and authored by the software provider. This does not mean it is bad, but it does mean is lacks variety and innovation. There is heavy reliance on auto-grading, which limits opportunity for creative student works in art, projects, lab reports, and essays. Many students complain of monotony, as every class is similar in format. Basically, the software company invested in its content, and is not likely to change it up, it grows stale and boring over time. And because the programs provide a complete school-in-a-box, there is no need for real teachers, so the teachers are a kind of add-on.
Studia Nova provides students a variety of curriculum by various authors through our own technology platform. We carefully selected this more open-source approach because we embrace unique and innovative ways to teach students. But most of all, if parent and student feel the curriculum is a poor choice, we have options! There is no perfect math book, no perfect set of literature books to read, it depends on the student.
Studia Nova classes offer real, human teachers who give lectures and answers questions. Because there is a real teacher, students can do creative works that can not be auto-graded, like essays, lab reports, and art projects. A Studia Nova teacher maintains a productive and encouraging relationship with the student and answers questions pertaining directly to the homework.
Studia Nova’s approach technology differs from the all-in-one Computer Based Learning Systems. For us, technology is only a tool to provide students access and options, and to organized the day-to-day workload to ensure completion. It provides a way to connect and communicate. At Studia Nova, technology’s job is to be easy-to-use, and serve the teachers who do the teaching.