Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Where or when will your kids go to school? 1950 or 2015

It is now understood we are using a school system designed in the 50's to educate our kids born in the 21st century. Unfortunately, this reality doesn't sound like a very forward thinking proposition for the wealthiest country on the world...

Let's look for a moment at the latest tools which should presumably be the types of technologies tomorrow's students will find useful.

First consider a writing instrument such as the PULSE SmartPen, that record all verbal lectures while each note is taken. Then allows you to simply tap the note on the paper, to replay and hear the related sound bite.
(This pen also saves all your recorded notes too your computer; converts them to searchable text if your wish; and places them on the Internet for sharing if desired. -Click Here- for example notes.)

Now how about an exceptional, portable system for storing and viewing all text books; such as, the iLiad by iRex Technologies; which scores big by providing a touch screen over its' eInk screen creating a very effective ePaper! This allows for very convenient highlighting, bookmarking, annotating and instant text searching.
Some models also provide wireless Internet connectivity.

Now all that's needed is an inexpensive home based or portable computer to plug these devices into and utilize for heavy typing and easy Internet based research and reporting. Doesn't have to be too fancy, and thanks to all the free software available via Google Apps, we really don't need to buy much in the way of software tools. ASUSTek sales just such a machine. The Eee PC 1000 (h)
Okay, now that the students of the future each have all the devices they require; for around $1000!
**Recognizing it is odd that the eBook cost almost as much as the PC. However, these eInk based devices should drastically come down as their popularity increases and novelty wears off. There are several good eInk based eBook options in the $300-$400 rang but they don't have a touch screen.

Let's first consider the (simplified,) primary $$ cost of today's educational system:
  • Facilities - Building and classrooms
  • Staff - Teachers, Administrators, Support Staff - janitorial, security, custodian, lawn care, cooks, etc...
  • Materials - Books, Furnishings, Supplies
  • Technology - Computers, Video Projection Systems, Software, networking
  • Food, and Utilities - Electricity, phone, water, sewage, Internet service provider, etc...
Now lets briefly list the obvious pro and cons of a solution such as homeschooling:

  • Avoiding all infrastructure cost and inefficiencies listed above to maintain the public schools
  • A potential for self-paced progression for each student. Move ahead in accordance to your abilities versus simply your age.
  • Depending on the age of the student, a Parent, guardian or instructor must be present at all times.
  • Maintaining good accountability of work completion and performance is hard to regulate or enforce.
  • Some lower income families are dependent on the school system for reliable food and shelter during the work week.

So what is the actual cost of today's educational system system?
What standards could actually be enforced?
Are "Gadgets" and new technologies enough?

  • Recoding all hand written notes, synchronized with audio of online lecture.
  • eBooks with reported confirmations of read text
  • Study materials with recorded and reported highlighting

Can the Internet be utilized to provide a reliable homeschooling infrastructure?
  • Curriculum accountability through uploaded work and study preparations
  • Online live video lecturing with remote student interaction
How can these possibilities and solutions like them not all be weighed as a viable part of an extremely deteriorating educational system, and a goal to excel as a world leader in modern innovations and opportunities.


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