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Education in the Digital Age

Education in the Digital Age

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Published by RestoreOKPublicEd
Jo Joyce attended a conference in Oklahoma City called "Education in the Digital Age". She came away with many more questions than she could have even thought of going into the experience. She shares her thoughts, some insight and a bit of research in this paper.
Jo Joyce attended a conference in Oklahoma City called "Education in the Digital Age". She came away with many more questions than she could have even thought of going into the experience. She shares her thoughts, some insight and a bit of research in this paper.

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Published by: RestoreOKPublicEd on Aug 19, 2011
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08/19/2011

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Education in the Digital Age
By Jo JoyceRestore Oklahoma Public Education
After spending nearly five hours listening to propaganda promoting policy changes andproponents of post-modern professional
pedagogy, I’m pooped. An older woman summed it up
best when she asked the panel at the end:
If digital education is so great, why did all of you(presenters) have to come here in person rather than have a Skype conference? 
Amen, Sister.Friday, July 29
th
, 2011, I attended the conference,
(McGuigan)sponsored by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA). The following is a short synopsis of this venerable event which served to only create more questions for me than it proposed.
General Lee Baxter (Ret.)
 
opened the conference with the goal of “broadening public thinking.”
 
Michael Horn
of  Innosight Institute (InnoSight Institute)
,
who wrote the book
,
(Johnson) spoke on
“disrupting innovation,” a theory that whatever is c
urrently provided (service/product) willeventually be replaced by innovation/discovery. He gave several examples in the shoppingindustry, car industry, and military industry. Education is lagging behind, although higher
education has been “disrupted” b
y community colleges and on-line colleges like Phoenix.Horn c
ites several examples of current uses of digital: to assist a “graduate” with that last class,to offer AP to areas that do not provide it, and when it is “a necessity” i.e. homeschool and
homebound. He foresees a greater need in our current budget crisis.
He insists innovation will happen, but he does ask the question, “Is it a good thing?” He sees the
positive as a cheaper version of customized education plan (CEP), with something much more
exciting than Phoenix’s original “power points,” including video games. He knows teachers will
resist for fear of being replaced, but said instead they will have to change from
sage on thestage
” to a moni
tor
which he feels is liberating. He is also aware many schools will not beready for this, especially the funding.
 (Andrew Coulson) of CATO Institute quoted statistics on the use of  Khan Academy (Khan Academy) which in his opinion confirms the need for digital learning. Hequestions why education is not
market progressive
when it employs six million people and hasa budget of $600 billion a year. He sees engineers as innovators who implement policies fromtheir successes, even though he admits unions do not like competition. He cited other countriesthat allow competition in education, especially Japan, Sweden, and Britain. He is sure if education were treated as a free enterprise we will see plummeting prices, although we will alsoface legal and regulatory threats, as well as a demand for universality.
 
Coulson quoted Thomas Jefferson, “It is tyranny to compel people to disseminate what is
objectionable,
knowing we cannot have state funding (or subsidizing) for morally objectionableideas. Tax credits would avoid this (as opposed to scholarships).He had a very interesting slide presentation that showed that the more regulations a state had
for education, the more “blue” or
Democrat the politics of that state were. It also showed thatmore vouchers/school choice legislation had passed in red states.
 (J. Rufus Fears) is a professor at OU. He said that to reform education is the mostdifficult challenge in the world and is abhorrent to many. He believes when technology takesthe lead, then learning can transform, but, he asked, in what direction? He also asked if technology is the greatest tool for freedom, or its cheap cousin.He thinks languages can be taught more efficiently and better with Rosetta Stone, especially if the teacher has a poor accent. He also states that education, especially higher ed, is aneconomic enterprise. Dr. Fears pointed out that the regional and state universities providefinancial support for small towns, and if they closed the campus, it would result in massiveunemployment. He also sees Digital Learning bringing about a loss of the Socratic method of learning, where there are questions asked and ideas freely exchanged.
Dan Lips
wrote the paper
(Lips) (Some of the below questions refer to this document.) Headmitted to being a pessimist and sees Digital Education as the glass waiting to spill. He seesstrong opposition from the unions and special interests. He also sees in ten years there will beincredible change and progress. Current trends show a decline in support of unions and bluestate politics, and a legislature willing to stand up to unions. It has become obvious to the publicand politicians that the kids are not the focus - the money is.A new trend of the left supports school choice. Mr. Lips hopes it continues and creates thepossibility of Oklahoma being the next state to lead the country in quality education. The manyexamples of digital education in states like Florida and Utah making progress encourages Mr.Lips. The obvious advantages of free online learning for universities would help all learners.After taking copious notes from the often long-winded, technologically excited
salesmen andwomen,
 
I’m not sold
. In fact, after
reading Mr. Lip’s paper, I have
many more questions thananswers about the trend toward digital education.
Questions About Money
1.
 
Is the sole purpose of pushing digital education to the masses for the benefit of profitsto the computer industry? (There are special circumstances where digital
can and is
 being used.)2.
 
Are there “power” proponents that are pushing for this “progress” and if so, who and
why?
 
3.
 
Will competitive bids for contracts be used for all the services/purchases? This will bean on-going job requiring many more employees, not less.4.
 
Will teachers be involved in choosing the hardware/software, or will they get it assigned
to them by “buyers” in the education department? Will this take
a lot of teacher time
away from “teaching?”
 5.
 
Coulson said free enterprise brings about innovation and will do so in the educationindustry as well. This can be good, but when the various book publishers buy out the
smaller “competition” they form monopoli
es eventually, and then there is nocompetition. Big states, with their own political agendas, have undue influence ontextbooks. Like any other industry, the market becomes full of lobbyists and then the
only talk about “success” is the profits the comp
anies make
not the number of graduates or what they learned (improved scores?) or successful careers.6.
 
Page 12
of Lips’ “Digital Age”
 
 –
 
State-funded ESAs (education savings account) would offer some significant improvements over traditional student-centered education
initiatives like pubic school choice and scholarships or education tax credits…spurring
innovation among education service providers, including virtual and online learning programs
.” But what regulations would they create that would place limi
ts andrestrictions on our education?a.
 
I bet the internet providers are drooling.b.
 
I bet the software salesmen are drooling.c.
 
I bet the hardware salesmen are drooling.d.
 
I bet the electricity companies are drooling
(with rates that will “necessarilyskyrocket”)
.7.
 
Currently many states play the blame game with unionized teachers; will this reduce thenumber of teachers and will this be a problem with the unions? Or will there be moreunionized technical employees to replace them? Is digital really cheaper or more
effective than “live” teachers?
 
Questions About Education Theory
1.
 
Will it not be easier to “indoctrinate” children with a facts
-only instruction method,rather than a presenter/discussion method?2.
 
In a classroom setting children can immediately raise their hand when questions arise.In a digital setting they may not have a chance to ask questions, or at least they will bedelayed until the session is over. Again, a chance for indoctrination, and also confusionand frustration.

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