Becoming proficient in web 2.0 is essential when one looks at the direction in which the cost of Education is trending. I think that once it becomes apparent that using central planning in Education is failing, and is ultimately unsustainable, the task of providing an education will rest on the local communities. As a result, professionals who can successfully employ web-based, distance-learning software will have a decided advantage in the job market. This competitive edge will be a huge benefit as actual face time may, in the near future, (due to ballooning class sizes and dwindling benefits for teachers leading to fewer actually qualified professionals), be diminished. Beyond that, the current public school model is dramatically out of sync with modern life; it was designed on an industrial revolution model that compartmentalizes and spatializes a students time and intellectual experience. The school calendar is based off agrarian needs! (Put down that book; time to come home and reap, Timmy!)
Using things like Jing (featured below) or similar programs that allow for webcasts, windows movie maker (or whatever iequivalent there is, NING’s, Twitter, etc. allow the educator to create a personal learning network for student that can involve students and parents and perhaps even be a supplement to in class meetings. This seems much more fitting for a modern world where other obligations and limitations often stand in the way of face to face time between teacher and student. It also fills a particular niche for homeschoolers.
Below I used Jing to give my lesson plan on PLNs to students. You have to take it with a grain of salt, as the lesson and the plan are still in their nascent phases, but I think that the point that I am trying to make is well served.
All of this, of course, hinges on the idea that there is not some byzantine, beaurocratic structure in place that stifles innovation and attempts to cure all educational needs with nationwide fixes. Further nationalising education is an option that will not work out well. People have different visions for what a proper education is for their children. Some parents are fans of home schooling, some parents want a religious education for their children. I think as state budgets become increasingly strained, more and more people will be clamoring to opt out of the educational system as it now stands, particularly given that there are not any tangible objectives being met. Scores continue to drop. This could, and this is a big could when there is too much government in the way of things, be an opportunity for smaller, privately funded organizations to make a go at providing educational services to meet the needs of a failing school system.
This is a thought that has been rolling around in my head for a while now, and in light of the uses for technology that we have applied in this course, it makes me wonder if this is a realistic outcome for education. Afterall, most of human history has seen decentralized education rather than government education (and for some reason government education always seems to turn towards sophistry, propaganda, and stagnation).
I am interested in what you think. I see a desire for the field of education to be standardized at the federal level and a national curriculum being put into effect. I think that this will be a dismal failure. I think that this will result in a generation of students who have no critical thinking skills, no diversity of opinion, and certainly no desire to question authority.