Six years ago Thomas Friedman asked “how did the robot end up with my job?” He talked about our living in a time when being ‘average’ and successful no longer exist in the global economy. We now compete, globally, with those who are ‘good, better and best’. Employers have access to top notch performing people, robots and software. Our education system still turns out a bell curve of capable young adults placing the United States in competitive edge jeopardy. Hence, the persistent cry for school reform.
Core Standards/Curriculum is crucial to a guaranteed, viable set of learning outcomes/skills for today’s learners. Powering up teaching and learning to the highest productivity with highest student achievement results is a significant goal. Creating an ecosystem where learners ‘drive’ their learning to reach their greatest potential is being accomplished where meaningful use of technologies is in place.
How many times can we make the argument, present the research, data and case for infusion of well-implemented technology in schools? It’s hard to believe that there are still education leaders requiring an evangelist approach about the moral imperative of technology tools in schools. It reminds me of what’s happening with the postal service.
The United States Postal Service is still trying to compete with the Internet. They maintain massive mechanical and human structures that were created before the Internet existed. They face and have faced multibillion dollar deficits for at least 10 years. The postmaster general began talking about a ‘new reality’ many years ago.
Remember The Pony Express? It was a huge accomplishment because it moved mail at a fantastic rate across several states in just ten days! The investors of that progressive movement pulled funding in just 18 months…when people and animals couldn’t move fast enough to match the speed of the telegraph. Educators still have enormous textbook budgets while teachers and students are creating content and accessing ‘right now’ resources both free and online.
Several years ago the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) reported that there are over 2 billion worldwide Internet users. The organization helps leaders understand the global economy by providing data and facts to help decision making around management and policy issues. They focus on productivity, competitiveness and growth while looking through the lenses of global financial markets and the impact of technologies.
MGI further noted that the Internet has been the world-wide doorway for new waves of entrepreneurships, business models and innovations for using, delivering and accessing goods and services. It has changed how we all engage with the world. The same can be true in education once we throw open the network doors and facilitate each learner’s ability to have consistent access to the power of knowing and growing ‘now’.
There are great pockets of education systems where this has happened: Mooresville Graded School District in NC; Auburn City Schools in AL; Alvarado Independent School District in TX; Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District in MI; and all of the Project RED Signature Districts (www.projectred.org).
Those are celebrations for sure….but when you consider the rapidity of change, growth, economical development happening in the world where they have well engaged technology tools and the Internet, our pace in education greatly pales. Every day is a wakeup call.
There is a lot of rhetoric – much on point regarding the need and possible avenues of growing bandwidth and furthering technology acquisition and correct utilization in schools. We can rely just so much on government intervention and funding. What we can control is what we have at our disposal..and what is in our own backyards – our own operating budgets, ability to vision, plan and nail down short and long term strategies. Engaging community resources, businesses, local higher education settings and the like have all demonstrated support for local schools’ engagement of technology and development of global work skills.
Robust digital conversions are more feasible today than ever before given best in breed showcase sites, best practice resources available online and face to face, and current research. For most education systems this will be a process. As all processes go….progress begins by taking the first step – making that first big decision. Here’s to that time and place for all!
Chief Executive Officer