Technology is changing education. E-textbooks are not online learning, but they are a step in that direction. Bill Grave has an Oregonian article "Oregon universities put iPads to the test" that discuss the use of e-texts and e-textbooks in Oregon higher ed schools (here):
Universities have in the last year been exploring electronic readers like Amazon's Kindle for textbooks and other materials
But the iPad has expanded the possibilities for more powerful and dazzling interactive textbooks with its color display, video, touch screen, Internet access and capacity to accommodate thousands of applications. Textbooks designed specifically for the iPad with 3-D illustrations, video lectures, interactive tests and links to the Internet already are beginning to emerge.
The iPad and other electronic tablets like it coming down the pike may in a few short years start pushing paper textbooks into the academic backwaters of the slide rule and typewriter, college technology experts say.
I expect much more of this. The article goes on to say:
Simba Information, which specializes in forecasts and analysis of the media industry, projects the e-textbook market will grow at an annual rate of 49 percent through 2013, when e-textbooks will command about 11 percent of textbook sales.
Accompanying that article as a sidebar is "" on the use of e-texts in Salem's K-12 system;
Like colleges and universities, public schools also are taking an interest in what electronic tablets like Apple's iPad might offer the classroom.
Bookbyte Digitial, a division of a Salem online bookstore called Bookbyte, is teaming up with Salem-Keizer Public Schools next month to try out the iPad with teachers and students at three schools: Hammond Elementary, McNary High and South Salem High.
The project will use iPads for digital math and English lessons for more than 200 students. Some students will be tapping the iPad as many as three times a day.
In this video, Jim Clifton, CEO of the Gallup Polling Commpany, comments on the relative economies of China and the U.S. The "playoff games for our lives," as he sees it, is between our 50 million K-12 students and China's 200 million K-12 students.
His entire remarks are on C-span here. Gallup puts lot of polling data online here.
It is, of course, essential that Oregon ensure the rigor and quality of online charter schools and demand financial and academic transparency from the private vendors operating these "virtual schools." But once the state is convinced that online students are receiving a quality education, why should it prevent other families from making the same choice?But, unfortunately, there is nothing in the Oregonian editorial about expanding online education opportunities for students who remain in traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Nothing about making Mandarin available online to every student in Oregon. Nothing about saving money. I've estimated that Oregon could save $60 million this biennium through expanding online education. I've argued for expanding online opportunities to the remaining 99% of Oregon students not in virtual schools (here):
The Oregon Board of Education recently spent several hours kicking this question around before concluding that parents should be allowed to choose online schools -- but only up to a point. A majority of board members supported parent choice only if there was a cap on how many students could leave an individual school district. In other words, parent choice for some, but not necessarily all.....
.... A state where a quarter of students drop out of public schools ought to have better things to do than figuring out ways to limit access to successful alternatives.
Oregon can both save money and broaden course offerings by aggressively pursuing online education. In particular, the Board has failed to put into the record any of the costs (and, therefore, of potential cost savings) of individual courses and to put into the record the current and planned online offerings of the largest school districts.I do not think individual school districts are going to push online education. State pressure is needed to keep Oregon from becoming an educational backwater. The Oregonian needs to go further. They've taken the first step, they need to take the second!
that there is a movement stirring in this country around education. From the explosion of new charter schools to the new teachers’ union contract in D.C., which will richly reward public school teachers who get their students to improve faster and weed out those who don’t, Americans are finally taking their education crisis seriously.I know I'm taking educational reform very seriously. I want more foreign language immersion programs (especially Mandarin), a high school study abroad program where local school districts pay the fees to send students abroad, and vastly expanded statewide opportunities for online learning (especially Mandarin). Without these, Oregon's education system will remain second-class, becoming increasingly cost inefficient and irrelevant to the future lives of its students.
"Waiting for Superman” follows five kids and their parents who aspire to obtain a decent public education but have to enter a bingo-like lottery to get into a good charter school, because their home schools are miserable failures.
Guggenheim kicks off the film explaining that he was all for sending kids to their local public schools until “it was time to choose a school for my own children, and then reality set in. My feelings about public education didn’t matter as much as my fear of sending them to a failing school. And so every morning, betraying the ideals I thought I lived by, I drive past three public schools as I take my kids to a private school. But I’m lucky. I have a choice. Other families pin their hopes to a bouncing ball, a hand pulling a card from a box or a computer that generates numbers in random sequence. Because when there’s a great public school there aren’t enough spaces, and so we do what’s fair. We place our children and their future in the hands of luck.”
It is intolerable that in America today a bouncing bingo ball should determine a kid’s educational future, especially when there are plenty of schools that work and even more that are getting better. This movie is about the people trying to change that. The film’s core thesis is that for too long our public school system was built to serve adults, not kids. For too long we underpaid and undervalued our teachers and compensated them instead by giving them union perks. Over decades, though, those perks accumulated to prevent reform in too many districts.
Getting into Portland's Mandarin immersion program involves winning a lottery.
The school system is recognizably an inheritance from the 19th century, from a Bismarkian model of German schooling that got taken up by English reformers, and, often, by religious missionaries, taken up in the United States as a force for social cohesion, and then in Japan and South Korea as they developed. It is recognizably 19th century in its roots. And, of course, it's a huge achievement. And, of course, it will bring great things. It will bring skills in learning and reading. But it will also lay waste to the imagination. It will lay waste to the appetites. It will lay waste to social confidence. It will stratify society as much as liberate it. And we as bequeathing to the developing world school systems that they will now spend a century trying to reform. That is why we need really radical thinking, and why radical thinking is more possible and more needed than ever in how we learn.
Here’s the good news about China’s emergence as the world’s second largest economy — U.S. business has figured it out. And here’s the bad news– while U.S. companies can go global, most U.S. citizens can’t. The result in this age of globalization, is a growing tension between the interests of America’s business leaders and the interests of much of its middle class. Indeed, the most important fault line in American politics today may not be between Democrats and Republicans. It is between those businesses and business people who are succeeding in the global economy and those who aren’t.Freeland is right. Oregon businesses, like Nike and Intel, have figured out the China market. They are both making and selling products there. They are doing well. They employ a few Oregonians in China, but mostly, I think, they rely upon Chinese workers.
This clash of values and interests upends our usual ideas of left and right. Consider immigrants. It’s no accident that Mike Bloomberg and Silicon Valley bosses are squarely on the side of diversity and liberal immigration laws. But CEO’s are less thrilled about the Democrat-driven imposition of more regulation and the promise of higher taxes.
The irony is that the globalization of American business is surely a good thing. Imagine how much worse things would be if U.S. companies hadn’t figured out how to play and win on the world stage.
But the equally important truth is that the twin revolutions of globalization and technological change are disproportionately benefiting the global super-class and the middle class in emerging markets like China and India — while leaving much of America behind. America’s business leaders need to figure out how to help America’s middle class join the global economic party or face a populist backlash which will make Barack Obama look like Milton Friedman.
Sadly, the Oregon Board of Education seems to be proceeding with its inadequate report and recommendations to the legislature on online education in Oregon. As I’ve previously blogged (here):
Oregon can both save money and broaden course offerings by aggressively pursuing online education. In particular, the Board has failed to put into the record any of the costs (and, therefore, of potential cost savings) of individual courses and to put into the record the current and planned online offerings of the largest school districts.
I’ve previously estimated that Oregon could save roughly $60 million in the first biennium and $240 biennially over the longer term by increasing online education (here).
The Board of Education, apparently, is willing to settle for doing much less. Kimberly Melton reports in her Oregonian article “Oregon Board of Education tackles parent choice and virtual schools” (here) on the very limited approach they are pursuing. Parts of Oregon’s existing educational establishment oppose the expansion of online educational opportunities. As Melton reports:
But some, like Laurie Wimmer, government relations consultant for the Oregon Education Association, say the board had to consider the needs of the more than 500,000 students in Oregon public schools who could be adversely affected by the choices of a few parents.
In Oregon, the state funds schools according to their enrollment. So, as students leave one school district, so does the state money. If schools lose enough kids, it could prompt a district to reduce programs, staffing or close a school altogether.
“People always criticize us for focusing too much on the system but we are charged with keeping the system in balance and being fiscal managers of that system,” Wimmer said. “This is about all students, not just the few who choose a laptop-only education. I think it is the majority of kids that were getting lost in the conversation.”
This pitting of the choice of one set of parents and student, or group of parents and students, against another set of parents and student, or group of parents and students, is wrong. It is usually wrong on the facts. There usually will not be enough drop in enrollment for any program reduction or school closure. This is the “Chicken Little” argument (here), creating general hysteria out of the smallest bit of micro-truth.
And even when the
cumulative drop in student enrollment creates a potential program reduction or
school closure, it is morally wrong to put the interests of one group of
students ahead of the interests of one or more other students. All students
will still have an educational program and a school. Local school districts can
manage these drops in enrollment (if they happen). That’s their jobs. Local
school districts, not the OEA, “are charged with keeping the system in balance
and being fiscal managers of that system.”
In the case of online learning, OEA supported restrictions are already creating the program reductions. For example, all Oregon students could now have access to online high school Mandarin (and lots and lots of other) classes. That they do not is a program reduction from what is possible. It is not right for the students, and it is not right for Oregon economic and national security future.
Similar arguments by OEA are used against the Go Global High School Study Abroad proposal: that if educational funding follows the student abroad, then in-district classes are left with less resources (true, but less students as well) which might create a hardships (like program reductions or school closures) on the students left behind. Like with online education, this is usually wrong on the facts: there will usually be no program reductions or school closures. And, like with online learning, it is morally wrong to pick one group of students over another without a compelling reason.
In the case of online Mandarin and high school students studying abroad in China, there is a compelling reason for such programs: without such programs the possibility of war with China increases, and the possibility that the US might lose such a war increases. By failing to support these programs, OEA, and its member teachers, are putting us all more at risk and carrying a very heavy responsibility into the future.
And there is an even broader case against the OEA positions: that, by opposing online education (and its cost savings and increased course offerings), they are making public schools increasingly inefficient and costly, and that, by opposing high school study abroad programs, they are making public education increasingly less relevant to the real world.Oregon education now faces serious funding challenges, but it also needs to become more efficient and relevant. OEA’s online education and high school study abroad positions, by taking a “Chicken Little” approach, undermine its general appeal for state education funding.