Andrew Rasiej, who has put together the Personal Democracy Forum, is hitting hard on learning and education and technology as a part of a new challenge to the candidates in the presidential election. He mentions that kids in NYC spend on average one hour a week on computers in schools. Businesses, he notes, use computers a bit more often. The divide has continued to increase.
To address this, he has six key planks that he wants the candidates to commit to on the TechPresident Weblog:
- Declare the Internet a public good
- Provide affordable high-speed wireless Internet access nationwide
- Support ‘Net Neutrality’
- Instead of “No Child Left Behind,” our goal should be “Every Child Connected.”
- Build a Connected Democracy
- Create a National Tech Corps
I’ve been wondering if any of these candidates will take all of this on. I hope so.
Definitely worth reading and thinking about.
Stephen Downes says
Who really really needs to run.
Will, it will not be a Republican for a very simple reason. They could not win the nomination while agreeing with “Every Child Connected”. Too many conservatives look at the Internet as a source of of evil (porn, acceptance of “alternative lifestyles”, etc.)This will keep social conservatives from endorsing it. Fiscal conservatives will be opposed to the idea of a National Tech Corps because of it would be yet another government agency.
I would have to agree with Stephen about Al Gore, or maybe John Edwards.
Geoff Sheehy says
I’m surprised in the conversation I monitor about technology in education that I don’t hear more about the “every child connected” concept. Being a person who can’t afford better than NetZero dial-up, I wonder about my students whose parents don’t have steady jobs. It seems like this divide will be a difficult blow to overcome for people who cannot afford computers and broadband connections.
Interesting that Andrew mentioned that observation (about the amount of time current students spend connected vs. the amount of time employees in the business world are connected). I mentioned a similar point in my response to the Dept. of Education questionnaire that was recently made available here:
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/roundtable-form.html Hopefully many of us will take the time to respond. In case you haven’t heard about it, the Department of Ed. is seeking comments from those who work with technology in education and is attempting to assess the role of technology in education. Perhaps we can drum up some kind of additional political support for our cause. (I know, I know… just try to keep your cynical thoughts to yourself for 10 minutes and respond to the questionnaire anyway. haha It can’t hurt.)
Scott McLeod says
I know a lot of districts that WISH they were able to have kids use computers an hour a week…
Jane Nicholls says
I love that slogan ‘Every child connected’ much more positive that the pessimistic ‘No child left behind’. I don’t live in your society, I live in New Zealand, but NCLB always makes me think of jumping off a sinking ship, does that mean the current platform for education in America is in a lifeboat? Maybe it is time to move to ‘Every Child Connected’.
Without resorting to party politics, “who will do what”, who invented the internet or not, we must understand that a balance must be struck between bureaucracy and private innovation. Bureaucracy is hopeless alone solving the problems of education. You need the government to â€˜initializeâ€™ the effort on a grand scale, but you need an innovative, concise, motivated, inspired plan to get there. Unfortunately, governmental agencies (or politicians in general) are not good at the â€œinnovativeâ€ part; they are good at the â€œexecutingâ€ part. You cannot hang all hope on empty politicians (all parties), who spew sound bites and “tickle the fancy” for a metaphoric 15 minutes in an effort to be elected. However, since we need the â€œemptiesâ€ to sustain a functioning, free-society, why donâ€™t we educate all of them, so that whoever is elected can understand the situation rather than â€œwait for the next guy?â€ Turn all of them into TechPublicServants. Give the sound-bite machines a plan, talk to each, discover their plan (in detail) or present a plan that can actually work. Hereâ€™s the most important plank that was omitted:
Create a plan for using technology – How about â€œNo Curriculum Left Unchanged?â€
Every child connected is great, but what happens then? It won’t matter if children spend 24 hours a day on the internet – it’s what they are using it for and how they are learning from it that is important. Technology is only a means to an end.
– Why should we connect every child?
– Has anyone suggested how to teach the “connected child?”
– Has anyone suggested that the way we teach must change, that today’s curriculum is a relic from the past (manufacturing economy)?
The answers are yes, and the ideas above are a collective thought, rather than my own â€“ none of the â€œtalking headsâ€ has presented a plan to â€œchange the face of educationâ€. Only simple suggestions are presented: connect every child; give every child a laptop; etc.
Private citizens and foundations, progressive speakers, all have presented ideas and have relevant research to prove that these ideas work. Whereâ€™s the push? We must not sit idly-by and think government will â€œfix all illsâ€. Eventually, private and public must work together to present and create a clear and concise plan.
The most important committal by any candidate is to commit government to implement a new curriculum â€“ not form an 8 year exploratory committee or a non-sense(ical) plan to fix education within a broken process (curriculum).
Whereâ€™s the plan? Connecting every student is about as effective as giving every child a laptop without a structured, relevant plan for its use â€“ this is why you get erroneous government reports that state technology is not working. Just providing a laptop (or any technology) without a plan or repurposed curriculum which teaches them not only core subjects but new skills (information literacy, critical thinking, etc.) makes about as much sense as providing someone fire and expecting them to prepare a gourmet meal. There is a process for using the fire along with various tools, ingredients and of course, instructions to get the desired effect.
Inspiration and references: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Gates Foundation, David Warlick, Will Richardson, many others.