Howard Rheingold‘s interview by C. M. Rubin on digital literacy in education is a very good read for any of you who are interested in this topic.
One particular question stood out to me in this interview that I’m going to talk about.
“What are some of the biggest traps and distractions on the Net that block our ability to use it for educationally beneficial purposes?”
“Commercial “education” enterprises and apps often apply the older broadcast models in a world where networked peer-to-peer learning is becoming the norm. The lack of control of quality of information puts the burden on the consumer of information. But the traps and distractions aren’t aspects of the technology so much as they are aspects of know-how — it’s a literacy crisis, not entirely a technology crisis.”
This question of roadblocks to educational development has been around for a very long time. The ready availability of information to any individual has shown the out-dated nature of modern education, particularly the American education system. These roadblocks are very difficult to surpass. The history of education has shown a doggedly conservative approach to using “the method that works”, this is done until something better forces the old system out of the way. The future of education needs to be a system that openly embraces new methods and ideas. To my surprise while reading the interview, Rubin did not pursue this line of thought any further.
Overcoming challenges to education are essential questions that a successful society needs to be constantly asking itself. The budgeted nature of public education have provided an extreme roadblock to progress in this field. Boards will only enact policies that “have proven successful” which holds back the system of education from growing and developing. There needs to be people willing to try this system on a district basis using different approaches. If officials are uncomfortable using the open web, a closed system can be used to start with, but the use of the open web has to be the priority and ultimate objective that is never forgotten. There are a million ways to approach this development, just determining a way to do to convince the “board of directors” to follow it is the challenge. In some districts this will be easier than others, but it has to be done in all districts.