A Radical Rethinking of What Learning Can Be

Frank B. WithrowBy Frank B. Withrow

Our technology has led the way to thinking of new and efficient ways to distribute videos and computer learning experiences. The entertainment fields with programs such as NetFlix have set the stage for a new format for marketing learning resources. The streaming of video or transmedia distribution can make thousands of lessons available to learners when needed. For an inexpensive monthly service fee, we can make vast libraries of lessons universally available in the home, the library, the classroom and the workplace.

While we are in an economic slow down, we are at the same time faced with the most productively efficient period of American industry. With a high rate of unemployment we are faced with increased individual productivity based upon technical applications of digital technologies. The retooling of the auto industry is an example of this increased efficiency. We are manufacturing better and more efficient automobiles with fewer people and more computer driven machines than ever before.This is true not only in the auto industry but in many manufacturing industries. As new and more complicated machines come on line, we need fewer but smarter workers.

Workers may work fewer hours but require higher skill levels. The implication for this new reality may be that, while we retain a 40 hour work week, it is divided into a thirty hour on the job work schedule and a ten hour education schedule. That is, the traditional work week will be 30 hours and we will hire more people, allowing us to reach a more robust level of full employment for all the people.

All citizens are entitled to food, shelter, clothing, education and medical resources as their basic rights. In addition, we must ensure that all citizens have clean water and breathable air. We also need safe roads, waterways and airways — in other words, a safe and reliable infrastructure of transportation. These are brought about by the degree to which society is efficient with respect to its work force. The work force is dependent upon natural resources, its intelligence, and its efficiency. If through the work force we can efficiently create the factors that give citizens their basic rights, we must be wise enough to distribute resources equitably. Henry Ford understood that the workers on the Ford assembly lines had to earn wages that enabled them to buy the products they produced.

The United States pioneered in free public schools for all children. Immigrants, the poor, the rich children and even the disabled children of America climbed the ladder of class mobility through universal public education. Our schools were founded on inexpensive printed textbooks that stored and transmitted history, information, science, and skills from one generation to the next. Classrooms and libraries were the storehouses of these experiences managed by teachers, tutors and mentors. For thousands of children, these resources were the tools for class mobility and social advancements. The public schools were the doorways to a better and more productive life. They were, as Thomas Jefferson envisioned them, the critical elements in a truly participatory democratic government. The printing press enabled us to create libraries and textbooks that formed the foundations of public schools.

Today, Internet and digital technologies are revolutionizing the way skills, knowledge and history are stored and retrieved. Events half way around the world can be seen in full living color as they are happening or within minutes of the events.

Thousands of lessons can be stored at home, at school or in the workplace and retrieved on demand. Streamed video and computer lessons can be marketed for nominal fees and delivered through social media to anyone almost anyplace in the world.

Traditional publishing houses are moving toward streamed video and computer transmedia products. A nominal monthly fee can bring lessons into homes and schools. We are just beginning to learn how to organize these new storage and retrieval systems, but they will expand learning and revolutionize our concepts of schools. Blended learning will dominate education by 2020 or earlier. It is already enabling learning to take place any time, any place. It has the further advantage of allowing learners to progress at their own speeds. A bright twelve year old who is interested in advanced mathematics may be doing college level work on his or her own time schedule. We are at a time of radical rethinking of what schools are and can be. They are no longer limited to the four walls of the classroom in a school building.

ABC Mouse is a company on the forefront of the new delivery of early educational materials. For a fee of $7.95 per month their library of early education skills and games is available in streamed video and computer programs. PBSKIDSGO also offers a wide range of games and lessons over Internet.

3 Responses

  1. […] videos and computer learning experiences. The entertainment fields with programs such as Ne…Via etcjournal.com Valora esto: Me gusta:Me gustaSé el primero en decir que te gusta esta post. […]

  2. This vision of a bright 12-year old doing college math assumes not just bright but high-level genius. For those with a 130 IQ, for example, such achievement will require a mentor or guide. Books just don’t do it.

    Online books and video lessons also lack the necessary interaction. Part of how you learn is by asking questions. Of whom do you ask questions in the current online universe?

    I’m a Caltech graduate and can tell you that I was very interested in advancing my math learning at an early age. It just wasn’t possible, although all Caltech grads are above 130 IQ. It was easy to stay a step ahead in my math and science classes in high school. However, leaping ahead to calculus and so on was just not possible without help.

    Soon, online learning will be interactive and not just textbooks and lectures and quizzes. Then, great things will be possible.

    • I envision a school system where there are adult mentors that interact with learners and guide them.

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