By Jim Shimabukuro
Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corporation, presented “Digital’s Next Frontier: Education” at the e-G8 Forum, “The Internet: Accelerating Growth,” which was held in Paris, May 24-25, 2011.
The actual talk begins at the 2:28 mark, and the entire video runs for 23 minutes. From Murdoch’s perspective, the world’s children are human capital. However, our educational systems are broken and wasting our children’s potential. Schools represent “a colossal failure of imagination,” and one of the reasons is their inability to keep pace with change.
The greatest change of all is the digital revolution, which frees people from the “tyranny of time and distance,” and it’s occurring in every field except one — education. He says that a time traveler from the mid-19th century would find that schools today haven’t changed much. The classroom is still defined by a teacher with a book and a blackboard.
Murdoch claims that throwing money at education isn’t working. He sees schools as “job programs for teachers and administrators.” However, he believes schools can improve through the wise use of digital technology. He cites, for example, the Harlem Success Academy, which provides laptops for all students in the upper grades. The achievement levels of students is extremely high, especially in the sciences.
He says that computers alone aren’t enough. Applications that engage students are also critical. He cites two schools in the U.S. where iPads were given to all students, allowing them to become more interactive in their learning.
Digital technology also allows for personalized or individualized learning. Students can work at their own pace with online tutors and videos featuring, for example, master teachers from anywhere in the world. He cites a school where iPods are used to monitor each student’s reading performance.
Murdoch sees technology as a means to expand the walls of the classroom, bringing the best learning resources to all the children of the world, regardless of where they’re located.
Finally, he says that technology won’t replace teachers. What it will do is remove the drudgery from teaching and learning. In closing, he challenges educators to “bring [their] own schools to the table.”
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