Evidently in between campaigning for re-election, our Congress-critters have voted to bring American education into the 21st century.
According to the BBC (and why do I have to go to England to learn this?), a recently-passed bill will create The National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies to “explore ways advanced computer and communications technologies can improve learning”.
Of course the motivation comes from all those mean countries who are taking our jobs.
“American businesses know that they need a well-educated workforce to face growing competition from China, India and Europe.”
The Federation of American Scientists said, “The creativity that developed extraordinary new information technologies has not focused on finding ways to make learning more compelling, more personal and more productive in our nation’s schools.
“People assumed that the explosion of innovation in information tools in business and service industries would automatically move into classrooms.”
That, the Federation said, has simply not happened.
It hasn’t? We’re shocked! Shocked!
The centre will support a ‘first of its kind’ comprehensive research and development programme aimed at improving all levels of learning from kindergarten to university and from government training to college.
One of the goals of the center involves “taking technology that works well in an industry setting to the classroom and measuring its effectiveness”.
However, I wonder if the Center’s plans will involve actually changing curriculum, classroom practice, and school culture to take advantage of the power of the information and communications tools.
Or will this be another case of trying to graft technology onto the antiquated 20th century agrarian structure of teaching and learning that has been at the heart of American education for half a century or more?
My optimistic side hopes for the former. Experience (and not a small amount of cynicism) expects it will be the later.
I worked in technology education for a few years during the early internet boom. I was so soured by this idea that putting a computer in front of a student magically fixed their educational ills. it’s a tool.
Technology is just like handing a student a notebook, textbook, notecards, and a pen. It’s all in what you do with it.
What many administrators thought was that by putting these kids through labs and serving them up standardized test questions, students scores would improve. It doesn’t work like that.