Hi all. Sorry, it appears that I was posting my topics in the "Welcome" discussion, rather than creating a new topic from scratch, so now that I understand the forum system better, I will stop doing that ... :~)
Rather than repeat the previous posts, here is the kernel of the issue:
1. Obama has already laid out a comprehensive vision for ed tech (see attached article)
2. In California, we are in the worst budget crisis in our history, and there is a good chance that the existing ed tech programs, CTAP and SETS, are going to be either eliminated or have their funding reduced. Given that, we will need to come up with new and more efficient ways to support ed tech in our schools. I and my colleagues are working on ideas now, and will be glad to share these with anyone who is interested. But this will need to be a highly collaborative process, so we hope you will join us in developing a plan that does not (necessarily) rely on state funding. Thank you.
One thing that could have a big impact would be to work with the computer industry to build rugged hardware and stable, work-horse software. The military has standards of ruggedness, or "longevity" for equipment it purchases. Education could too.
One of the big impediments to getting schools properly wired is that the danged technology keeps changing. You get the computers, build up the software collection, and they put out a new operating system. Then the applications get upgraded to work with the new OS, and pretty soon, whatever you bought a year or two ago is obsolete and can barely work with any of the new stuff.
This may be a good strategy for marketing, and for moving technology forward, but it's not a good strategy for massive enterprises that are not infinitely rich, like education.
Besides, stable hardware with a long work life would save a lot on recycling old machines (or dumping them). It would be environmentally appropriate.
This is very frustrating for all of us, including the massive enterprises. But we are paving the way for the information age, and this is one of the prices we pay for being the pioneers. I think that the solution is emerging in three developments: As for software, we are moving quickly to Open Source (you might want to read more about this at http://oedb.org/library/features/how-the-open-source-movement-has-c...). As for hardware, it will eventually become "transparent and ubiquitous." Finally, the Internet will eventually become a utility as ubiquitous as water and power, and it will create a very high level of "connectedness." The combination of these three developments should solve the problems you mention. But it will take time.
I agree. It seems like funding always attracts flies, and the real, effective work gets left behind by politics.
I am indeed quite tired of funding my own, successful but limited work in real classrooms, while millions and millions are wasted all around me quite unaccountably.
OK, enough complaining here. Need to get back to work.
Thanks for having these forums, I also hope these discusions/venting helps.
It seems to me, as a parent and not a professional teacher, that full use of the internet can allow schools to move away from text books and the huge expense involved in developing, selecting and purchasing them. Moving away from them would also allow individual teachers, schools and districts tailor their curriculum more toward the individual interests of their students thus crafting a more individualized education, rather than a mass one-size-fits-all instructional offering.
The area of school spending that will be hit hardest is funding for textbooks, which would be cut by $417 million. The loss of that money would make some schools unable to update their textbooks, and some districts unable to supply books to every student.
In every difficulty there is opportunity. In this case the budget crisis may well force the paradigm shift away from print to electronic textbooks and curricular resources, which is something that schools need to do anyway. The downside is that schools' budget for electronic textbooks comes out of the same pot as print textbooks, so these cuts will only be effective if electronic resources are less costly than print.
Ric... We adults learn without textbooks... and kids, when not in school, learn without textbooks... I think with a bit of prepatory research on the internet you could find curriculum for just about any class free on the internet. The whole textbook thing, in my view, is a boondoggle of the whole textbook industry aspect of the "educational-industrial complex".
Cooper ... we probably need to start a new thread for this discussion, because it deserves focus, but might detour the original discussion about developing a new plan for supporting educational technology. However, having said that, I would say that there is a strong sentiment in agreement with what you are saying .... that the educational system is not free of the same kind of corruption that we know exists in other american institutions. But that culture has grown up over decades and will be very hard to change. One barrier is that states have adopted curriculum standards, and teachers are not allowed to teach non-approved curriculum. Most web-based curriculum has not been vetted by the states, so it can't be used to supplant the so-called "adopted" curriculum. I am not an expert in this field, but from what I see, school districts are required to go through a fairly rigorous textbook adoption process on a regular basis, and can only adopt curriculum from a pre-ordained list of materials. So, as things stand now, the idea of finding free curriculum just isn't going to fly.
I hope someone with more knowledge than I have will jump in and give you a more authoritative response to your very important ideas.
Ric... I agree with the reality of what you are saying... but it's a mindset of mechanization, mass-production and the industrial age which is so 19th century. It is time to start shifting the paradigm to the information age where it is no longer about the facts (content) but the finding (knowledge acquisition). So you think we should start a new thread?