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Random thoughts while editting America's Last Best Hope

Author: JLB

Published On: August 26, 2008

You may have noticed the blurb about the latest project we have been working on at JLB WORKS.

This project, America’s Last Best Hope for Thomas Nelson, is a national educational campaign that will eventually be offered to all high school American history students in the United States. America’s Last Best Hope is based on three volumes of history textbooks that we are currently transferring to a web-based program.

Some of the benefits of the content being available online are that it allows space for maps and images, audio and video resources, and administrators can track students’ use of the program. One aspect that I have helped format, as JLB’s Content Developer are sets of vocabulary words for each chapter. Students can easily quiz themselves with the vocabulary word lists and check their answers by simply pointing their mouse on a word and a bubble with the definition for that word pops up.

With the Internet becoming so mainstream and a staple in educational settings, programs such as America’s Last Best Hope may be the future of America’s education. This raises two concerns for me: (1) The increase in online courses causes a decrease in human interaction. Teachers have a less influential role over students’ success. (2) The second concern I have with online courses is that there are subsequent standardized testing measures (ALBH has “chapter quizzes”). Standardized testing, albeit necessary at times, encourages students to focus on memorizing material and become too focused on the score. Open-ended courses that stimulate students’ minds through questioning material and putting it in context have a much more lasting impact than a memorized set of facts.

I think that America’s Last Best Hope is a brilliant idea, and the program provides a balance that allows classroom interaction. There are some great features that allow students to engage with the material, and it provides interesting debate topics, suggestions for plays to act out and supplementary resources. I am looking forward to seeing its’ success in the months ahead.

At the end of the day, however, I hope that online education does not cause teacher-student relationships and interactions between students to diminish, that students are driven to learn and that teachers do not judge students purely on standardized scores.

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