Responding here to a conversation with Miguel Zapata-Ros at the Connectivist Facebook site because every time Bloom comes up I wander off and lose track of my thoughts. Learning theories are hard to settle on and this is a bad weekend for settling anything. My response:
Interesting paper Miguel which has me thinking about deliberately building understanding into online courses and how difficult that can be in when you are alone in an office without any connection to the students who might be taking the course. I wonder if this removal from the zone of delivery and response (classroom) is part of what makes instructional design often seem artificial—like “being” on the internet. Bloom was in and of the world he knew, my world is online and truthfully it would more correct to say very little of me remains on Bloom’s side of the border.
Not to be too abstract yet when I think of the online classes I used to help build we worked towards a quality rubric which attempted to accomplish transfer of content to understanding but there wasn’t really a level of understanding specified. It was almost as if we were building in order to present the least number of difficulties to reach an average that represented “success” by completion over success by mastery. The course was “done” as if it was another egg laid by a chicken credited toward the dozen needed to “equal” a certificate.
Education should be more than the simple completions of courses. Even if we don’t expect mastery in all domains, I think Bloom would want us to push past doing something just to have it done to doing it with the purpose of expanding our abilities to operate as intelligent being in the world. Every subject makes a unique contribution to our knowledge and should be given our best effort and support.
A question that bothers me about the raising the level of performance as an accepted goal in education. Most of what I see around me is done with indifference and the world still functions. This is an awful idea… Why would we want to spend the extra effort improving performance of people who ultimately don’t care?
Maybe we fail somehow to identify online education as within the domain of serious study and see it as noise suggestive of education, but not the real thing? The mention of limits and viability in 1 to 1 tutoring of students “Obviously this is a limit, it is socially and economically un-viable instructional system that can sustain a tutor for a student” cause me to wonder if we can get past the barrier of economics to reach another level in education? Will technology enhanced teaching allow us to leap into another domain of learning? What could technology leverage that exceeds close, direct and responsive tutoring human to human? Or are we mistaken to speak of technology as somehow unconnected to us humans who imagine and build it?