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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Choice and Change

Education in Transition

I suspect that anything as broad as the field of education is always changing at some point in time and some degree of alteration. As the French author, Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld, once stated, “The only thing that is constant is change.” With that observation, I’d like to suggest that perhaps the direction and rate of change in education is happening at levels without precedent.

The advent of technology in the form of computers and the Internet has expanded and increased the democratization of education by enabling an incredible amount of knowledge to be stored, accessed and retrieved with lightning like speed. That’s an obvious outcome of computer technology (and the contributions of a long list of related equipment, like Smartboards, tablets,…). However, the growth of opportunities and possibilities emerging from the expanse of technological applications in the daily life of people has created an environment in which one can stay at home and communicate with people the world over as well as point and click to order products and services from down the street to across oceans. This is merely a logical next step from sitting on the couch and clicking away as you surf channels, or scanning you car radio for a desired station.

In short, we are moving from a “brick and mortar” education delivered in a conventional format of teacher directed learning experiences, to a “click and order” form of personalized education where learning menus are extended to individuals from a teacher who facilitates and guides instruction based on data specific to the individuals. Technology has provided unprecedented means of democratizing education through the ability to collect, store, retrieve, and extrapolate information for the masses. Knowledge has perhaps never been so accessible to so many. We can no longer afford to maintain past practices that were borne of the industrialized manner of delivering instruction to the masses. That may have worked for many people before, but it’s not likely to be successful with people accustomed to both choice and change during a time when expectations have risen and opportunities have expanded.

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