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DannyTN’s solution to remote learning for Special Needs and Pandemics (Fixed Subheadings)
DannyTN | 4/3/2021 | DannyTN

Posted on 04/03/2021 6:56:29 AM PDT by DannyTN

DannyTN’s DARPA-like contest to develop Computer Assisted Learning Software for Special Needs Students and Pandemic Remote Learning.

I’ve been troubled by the failure of online learning during the pandemic as that failure is completely contrary to my own experience. The problem I believe is in implementation. We need Computer Assisted learning (CAL), not just Remote Online Traditional Education (ROTE). And I envision a DARPA type contest to encourage development of appropriate CAL software applications.

To avoid confusion, when I use the term “program”, I’m referring to the contest and it’s evaluations. I use the term “software” to refer to the CAL applications.

Target Market
This plan is too late to be used for COVID lockdown online learning, but it could be used during future pandemics. More importantly it could be used for the 300,000 to 500,000 GED participants each year, students with learning disabilities including autism (256,000) and ADHD (3,300,000?) , advanced students who wish to learn at a faster pace than traditional school, home schooling students (1,600,000 in 2016) who wish to incorporate some of these classes into their curriculum, students making up missed classes, normal students needing a refresher on a topic, substitute teachers, and slower students who need additional tutoring in some subjects.

Some of these numbers overlap. And the ADHD number seems high to me. But the point is even outside of a pandemic the market is huge. And all of society would benefit from better educated youth.

My Experience

ROTE fails. During the pandemic, we’ve tried to take traditional teaching and deliver it via ZOOM and other net meeting tools, and from most reports it appears to have failed spectacularly. Students aren’t engaged. It’s hard to listen to a teacher for 6 hours a day when you are a captive audience in a classroom. And there you have the added incentive that the teacher can see whether you are paying attention.

CAL succeeds. When my kids were little I bought them educational PC games. Some were fun, some were boring. They quickly latched onto the fun ones and set aside the boring ones. My daughter entered kindergarten reading at almost a 4th grade level. Both of my kids have now finished college with very high grades on full tuition scholarships. My son graduates in Physics this May. He will go for his doctorate and told me not to worry, they will pay him. I am blessed. They scored 35 and 34 on the ACT tests. And I’m sure the head start they received from the educational games had a very large impact. (That and obviously fantastically superior genetics - LOL kidding)

Games for high school subjects were pretty scarce. But up through middle school, the games really helped them excel and provided the basis for their success in high school and college.

I’m convinced we can and should do this for high school for the target markets listed above and in case there are future pandemics.

Initial Subjects
A fairly complete list of 214 high school classes can be found here.

I took this list and selected the 53 classes that I believe would form a core high school curriculum. And since the average student takes 6 classes a year for 4 years, for a total of 24 classes, this reduced list still has significant variety for electives.

The program could be expanded to the other subjects over time. And we could even narrow this list down initially to 26 English, Math and Science classes to cut initial program costs, or even fewer depending on what subjects get feasible submissions. The 53 classes I selected include enough other subjects to complete a fairly well rounded high school education. And these are what I propose for an initial program to focus on.

Treatment of AP Classes
I included an additional 26 AP offerings, but I think these should be baked into the normal CAL software as either optional lessons or allowing the student to select an optional AP track vs a normal track.

This has the advantage of letting the student or their parents select which track the student progresses on. The school can advise which track. But if the student wishes to take the advanced material then they are allowed to.

Note that this would effectively eliminate systemic racism which has been alleged to exist in the selection of students for AP classes as any student could opt to complete the AP lessons.

Classes excluded for the initial program
I left out a lot of the classes that I don’t recognize from the 1970’s, thinking they may be nice electives, but wanting to focus the program for initial success.

Physical Education, Arts, Performance Arts, and Vocational Education are not well suited to CAL and thus are under-represented in initial class counts.

That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be innovative offerings in those subjects. But there are some real limitations. Outside of a supervised classroom setting do you really want students working unsupervised with metal or wood working machines, or a ceramics kiln or paints. Okay maybe non-toxic ceramic paints is an option. Paging Bob Ross.

I included Driver’s Ed, but that would only be the book portion. Physical practice will require an in-person instructor. Although Virtual reality headsets and racing consoles might provide some near real world instruction. That adds an expense that is excluded from the initial program.

I included environmental science, but excluded world religions, and women’s studies from the initial course list, because I think they would create more controversy. And I don’t think they are necessary in a high school curriculum. They can be added later.

I excluded all but a basic computer class, but online training in a wide range of computer topics is readily available and often free on the internet. This area and others could easily be expanded in future years.

The Curriculum Summary
Start with a core of 53 classes. Plus AP subject matter for 26 of the classes.

Summary of class count per area:
Business 3
Computers 2
English 6
Consumer Science 2
Foreign Language 3
Math 12
Music/Perf Arts 3
Physical Ed 3
Science 8
Social Studies 7
Visual Arts 1
Vocational education 2
Additional AP Class content 26

Detailed list of initial suggested classes included in Appendix A.

The Program
The program would request submissions of CAL software applications in each subject with a submission deadline each year.

The program would request annual submissions for at least 4 consecutive years. And then repeat every 4 years thereafter. 4 consecutive years is to give time for competition to build and refinements both to software and the program design.

The submissions would be evaluated first by a team of educators in that particular instructional area. Then would be actually applied to students to evaluate real world results.

Rewards for the best submissions
Rewards would include both best in class payments as well as potential for royalties for each student that uses the software.

To reward and encourage submissions, a panel will select the 7 best software application for each subject and issue rewards as follows:

1st Place $300,000
2nd Place $200,000
3rd Place $100,000
4th Place $ 25,000
5th Place $ 25,000
6th Place $ 25,000
7th Place $ 25,000

Any software application that is eventually used would get a $10 per student royalty.

Total cost of Rewards =
$700,000 awards * 53 classes = $37,100,000.

Feedback will be given to all software application developers at each phase of the evaluations. So that they can improve their products in future years.

Software Eligibility
To be eligible for the rewards, the CAL software would need to:

Recommendations for software applications
It’s recommended that all of the software include the following techniques:

Program Evaluations
Since we don’t know how many submissions we will receive, let’s assume they will accept up to 300 submissions per subject. In reality I think it may be more like 4 to 40 for most subjects.
I envision Phase 1 and Phase 2 being completed in early summer when teachers are available to be judges, with Phase 3 evaluations during the following school year.

Phase 1 Evaluation
Each software will be initially ranked on a scorecard by a minimum of 5 judges.
They will have 1 day for the initial screening.
This is a quick screening to rule out programs that are either incomplete or just can’t compete with the better programs.

Phase 1 Screening will include:

Maximum Cost of the Phase 1 screening will be: 5 Judges * (1 day /250 work days/yr) *
$70,000/yr/judge * 53 classes * 1000 submissions each =
5 * (1/250) * 70,000 * 53 * 300 = $22,260,000.

Phase 2 screening
From the Phase 1 scorecards, a maximum of 30 software applications per subject will be selected to go to Phase 2 screening.

Judges will have 2 weeks to perform the phase 2 screening.
Screening will include:

Maximum cost of phase 2 screening will be:
5 Judges * (2 weeks / 50 weeks) * 70,000 * 53 classes, * 30 submissions each =
5* (2/50) * 53 * 70,000 * 30.= $22,260,000.

Phase 3 Screening - Real life evaluation in test classes.
From the Phase 2 scorecards, a maximum of 7 software applications per subject that appeared to meet the completeness criteria will be selected to go to Phase 3 screening.

These 7 software applications will be given to at least 300 real students in a controlled study. To the extent possible, each software will be tested on a comparative group of students, and at least one group of students using existing methods will be included in the study.

The 7 software will be ranked on the results of standardized tests at the completion of the course and the amount of student time the course required. Learning being the primary objective, but speed of learning is also a consideration and indicator of quality.

Maximum cost of phase 3 screening will be:
Assuming these students would have teachers anyway, then the cost becomes just the royalties for use.
$10/student * 7 software * 300 students * 53 classes = $1,113,000.

Phase 4 Rewards.
Based on the results of the standardized tests and the time requirements for each course, the 7 software will be ranked and awarded prizes.

Cost of rewards:
$600,000 awards/class * 53 classes = $31,800,000.

Total program cost
Note the first 2 phases assume 300 submissions in phase 1 and 30 submissions in phase 2 and 7 participants in phase 3. If fewer submissions are received or fewer than 30 applications make the cut to phase 2, then the cost of these evaluations could drop dramatically.

Phase 1 Evaluations $22,260,000
Phase 2 Evaluations $22,260,000
Phase 3 Evaluations $ 1,113,000
Phase 4 Rewards $37,100,000
Add’l Admin costs $ 5,000,000
Total Cost $87, 733,000.

The Federal department of education’s budget for 2020 $72B. So $88 million is a pretty small amount of the education departments budget.

Uniform functionality.
There may be some areas of commonality that could be developed to reduce costs.

Feedback reporting to teachers and parents could use a common platform that could accept feedback from any of the software applications.

Quiz routines could be standardized and made available to software developers as well. But I would not standardize that in the beginning, because there may be some innovative ideas in that area, that you wouldn’t want to suppress.

Final Thoughts
While the Federal government would oversee the contest, the states would retain the right to use whatever applications they wanted or none at all. States could also negotiate with software developers for content or curriculum changes and/or royalties.

Both the Federal and State programs could, depending on the student, pass the royalties in full or in part along to the students.

The winning applications should be made available to the public for the Royalty fee, allowing content review and independent evaluations.

DannyTN is a dad and a taxpayer. He is neither an educator nor an educational software developer nor Federal employee.. As of May 2021 his kids have finished undergraduate college and would not benefit. He is of the opinion that software like this would not only improve education but also make possible savings in future government spending. That’s his opinion, ought to be yours.

Appendix 1: Initial list of classes for the proposed program.


Computer Science and IT


Consumer Sciences

Foreign Language


Performing Arts

Physical Education


Social Studies

Visual Arts

Vocational Education

AP Classes



History and Social Science

Math and Computer Science


World Languages and Cultures

Appendix 2: Comprehensive list of High School Classes A complete list of all 214 high school classes

TOPICS: Education
KEYWORDS: education; homeschool; pandemic; remote; school
Fixed the subheadings. Will ask moderator to remove prior post.
1 posted on 04/03/2021 6:56:29 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Tired of Taxes; CheshireTheCat; RBW in PA; redgolum; Mariner; Grampa Dave; EasySt; Organic Panic; ..

Pinging those who posted on a certain virtual schooling thread earlier this week.

2 posted on 04/03/2021 6:59:03 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: DannyTN

Quite a document.

3 posted on 04/03/2021 7:25:18 AM PDT by carriage_hill (A society grows great when old men plant trees, in whose shade they know they will never sit..)
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To: DannyTN

Inpressive. Only one thing standing in your way, teachers!

4 posted on 04/03/2021 7:29:46 AM PDT by The MAGA-Deplorian (Democrats are lawless because Republicans are ball-less!)
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To: The MAGA-Deplorian

Sorry impressive. Public skholl kicking back in.

5 posted on 04/03/2021 7:31:08 AM PDT by The MAGA-Deplorian (Democrats are lawless because Republicans are ball-less!)
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To: The MAGA-Deplorian; carriage_hill
"Inpressive. Only one thing standing in your way, teachers!"

Since it's targeted to special needs, homeschoolers, and GED students, I'm hoping teachers won't resist that much.

It could certainly augment existing classes as well. Teachers would still want to facilitate some class discussions. And as pointed out some classes just aren't suited for it.

I don't see it as a replacement for school and the social interaction that occurs there, except in a pandemic, when that interaction is forced onto zoom anyway.

6 posted on 04/03/2021 7:35:36 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: DannyTN

Thanks for the ping. This is a very well-thought-out plan and an excellent idea.

I’ve read that some schools have adopted “competency-based learning” programs using computer software in their classrooms, even at the high school level. So, at least some educators would support this idea.

Do you plan to submit this idea somewhere (or to someone)?

7 posted on 04/03/2021 11:54:48 AM PDT by Tired of Taxes
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To: Tired of Taxes

I think I was just hoping someone would see it on FR and pick it up and run with it.

Don’t know who to submit it to. Legislators? Dept of Education? Education advocacy group?

8 posted on 04/03/2021 5:34:59 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: DannyTN

Thank you for all of your hard work, in putting this all together.

Great info and wonderful idea.

Only if the socialists would allow a program like this.

Excellent work!

9 posted on 04/03/2021 5:42:46 PM PDT by Jane Long (America, Bless God....blessed be the Nation 🙏🏻🇺🇸)
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To: DannyTN
sorry Danny....I know you mean well...but you fought tooth and nail to promote the lockdown when it first hit....many of us warned you that it would be devastating to our economy, for our smaller businesses, for our children and for our children's health and all of our health....

the barn door was left open by the panic demics and as you can see, it was a big hoax, with stats manipulated from day one, and this was actually planned months earlier....

its no coincidence that AFTER Trump left office, all of a sudden Hydrocloroquine became a proper and good treatment, and all of a sudden TPTB decided they didn't have to use quite as stringent testing requirements....

we will not even mention how they called every single death a covid death....

as I've said from day can not stop a virus...and telling healthy people to isolate was INSANE..

10 posted on 04/03/2021 5:53:05 PM PDT by cherry (we are the Remnant)
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To: cherry

This thread is about educational tools that would be helpful whether or not there is a pandemic lockdown.

Let’s leave the debate about whether lockdowns and masks were good policy and whether pandemic numbers are valid or not, to other threads.

11 posted on 04/03/2021 8:19:13 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: DannyTN
Don’t know who to submit it to. Legislators? Dept of Education? Education advocacy group?

Good question... Maybe you can find a GOP legislator to support the idea? Or maybe a gaming company will be interested in developing the software? (I've long thought it would be a great idea.)

CAL programs have been developed before for high school-level courses. IMHO, though, the schools ruin them once they get their hands on them.

12 posted on 04/04/2021 12:07:35 AM PDT by Tired of Taxes
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To: Tired of Taxes
I found an email at the Dept of Education. Looks like there are two relevant subcommttees on the house Committee for Education and Labor.

Early Childhood elementatry and secondary education

Higher education and workforce investment subcommittee

I've also seen some commercials for high school home learning products for home schoolers. I don't know how good they are.

But if good products are out there, the school systems don't seem to be thinking about using them. Maybe federal evaluation and guidance could change that.

13 posted on 04/04/2021 12:38:46 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: DannyTN

The fed gov does seem to have some interest in the idea. For example:

Also, some states seem interested. But, all levels of government have so much bureaucracy, they always move so slowly.

Yes, it might be good to identify existing CAL software. (Khan Academy might be a good example. It does involve self-testing and points for advancement.)

14 posted on 04/04/2021 1:12:19 AM PDT by Tired of Taxes
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