In the THE Journal, Geoffrey Fletcher, editor at large of THE Journal posed a couple of questions of the ed tech community relating to the book
The World is Flat. Here are my thoughts on two of them.
Q1 -- How do we deal with 'Globilization 3.0'?
Globalization 3.0 is a concept that suggests that, due to the current state of fiber optic connectivity and the wide availability of powerful hardware and software tools, individuals are now able to collaborate and compete globally.
We simply have to "deal with it." It's here. We can no longer deny the fact that a huge talent pool of highly educated and sorted young people can do the back office (and also highly specialized) work of most Fortune 500 companies for pennies on the dollar. We need to focus on what we do best, which is, innovating. (We also need to insist that our legislators demand that our innovations stop being blatantly stolen by some of these same countries.)
So maybe a better question is, "How do we produce a generation of innovators?" Let's start by insisting on an exciting, rigorous, and "mile deep" science and math curricula. Let's have it be appropriately funded and let's assess it appropriately and regularly. The cool part is that we already know how to do this. No need for a presidential panel or pre-conference session. Let's just do what the NCTM and NSTA have been telling us to do. That wasn't hard, was it? (Don't get me wrong, I know that change is always violent.)
Also, if "the world is flat" we are going to have to make sure that the best and brightest in our country get special attention in order to ensure that our human resources are maximally utilized. Also, let's identify, challenge and support those students that show an unusual gift for innovation. This is what India has done by creating their brutally selective IIT academies. This isn't a "warm and fuzzy" suggestion, but it ensures that gifted students (however that is appropriately defined...hopefully not by zip code) are given a chance to reach their full potential. After all, it is the best and brightest Indian students that are taking our jobs. I wonder how an average child from India compares to an average American child? Maybe I don't want to know the answer to that?
Does anyone remember the 1989 SCANS report? It's good reading.
Q2- What role does technology play as a part of the solution?
Once you have defined a quality educational experience that creates deep and innovative thinking, simply apply technology to it. For example, if collecting, drawing meaning from data is important, use technolgies related to this topic. Data loggers, lego robotics, data bases, spreadsheets and web browsers could be suited to the task. Let's not apply them, though, unless they encourage deep thinking. Producing another generation of "Powerpointlessness" (Jamie McKenszie's term) will not help! Not every deep and thoughful science or mathematical experience may require an educational technology but there are many times when it can help to enhance the lesson by engaging and empowering the student.
Although, this wasn't asked, I think another factor that gives the 2nd and 3rd world students an advantage is their desire. They want to better their lives and they know that the key to doing it is education. They get it. This is exactly the same ethic that waves of immigrants in our own country have embodied. Consider this. When a young worker gets a job at a call center (a job that would be relatively undesireable to many top U.S. sytudents) it could result in health care benefits for their entire family! That's a life changing incentive. I look at my own son (granted, a decent student) with his PSP, iPod, and the many other adornments of an upper middle class American teen life and I wonder, "Will be able to muster the "ganas" it will take to make it in a 'Globalization 3.0' world?"
What do you think?