May 25, 2007 |
The most underutilized aspect of Web 2.0 is education, but students in Singapore are about to get a technical boost as blogs, video conferencing, tablet PC's, podcasts and interactive whiteboards are about to be employed in the classrooms there. A program called FutureSchools@Singapore is rolling out a new initiative to harness emerging technologies with innovative teaching methods to improve Singapore's education system. 5 schools have been targeted to test the new initiative according to news from Yahoo! Singapore, like most of Asia, is one of the most wired nations in the world. ICT (info-communications technology) will be integrated into their system in 15 such schools at the primary and secondary levels by 2015 according to this news. ICT capabilities like immersive virtual environments and educational games will be utilized to enhance the learning experience according to the Education Ministry in Singapore.
The new tools available to education worldwide will certainly benefit from the massive amount of content available via the Web. These Singapore schools will incrementally integrate ICT into their curriculum, while the rest of the world sits on its thumbs for the most part. These test cases will also examine the effects of technical learning on the cognitive, emotional and social development of their students. I guess conservatives and caution should be exercised with regard to educating young people but I can recall learning more from watching James Bond movies as a kid than I ever did listening to my windbag of a 4th grade teacher.
I am sure that many of my academic friends would agree that education has suffered from an apathetic and pathetic effort here in the U.S. and I am sure in other parts of the world. I taught geography to students for a year and came to realize that my task was more of a babysitting exercise than a teaching one. Kids now are exceedingly bored with the old methodologies and the "No child left behind" cliché has turned out to mean: "We will now go so slowly that anyone can keep up." 35 years ago we had the technology of TV and film to elevate our potential, but the methods employed to help the student were archaic even then. The TV set was not interactive and most kids fell asleep from watching lame old documentaries of "duck and cover" atomic cataclysm video you laugh about now from the early 60's clips. The point is young minds cannot be deceived or stimulated with boring, static and seemingly meaningless content. An analogy of this thinking would be to ask a person if they would rather walk to California or drive given the advent of the automobile. Education now is walking and young people know about cars.
In the future education will rest firmly on the shoulders of those responsible for their children. The state will be responsible for the quality of content and environment, but the student and the parent will have the ultimate task of achievement. We have relied for too long on other people and government to help our children become educated. In the U.S. parental involvement has become an after effect resulting from the chaos of a dog eat dog, capitalistic corporate greed party. Parents don't have time to walk the dog, much less attend to their children's needs. The school of the future will be a direct link to the individual home with utility and efficiency built in for the busy parent. School will still have to retain its "day care" aspect so that people can work, but technology, usable knowledge, interactive lessons and a vast array of unheard of tools will truly leave no child behind in the world.
You are witnessing an evolution in everything you see out of Web 2.0. The events are not always readily apparent nor are the intentions always the best, but we can all note that information, knowledge, interaction and the means to deliver it is more available now than ever before in history. I don't think the people that care in the world and the ones capable of helping deliver this gift to the world are standing idly by letting this wonderful tool we have in Web 2.0 become nothing more than the entertainment toy it once was. From an insider perspective, I can guarantee many of the people I talk with have the capability and intent to combine the fabulous technology at hand towards education. Virtually everything that happens in our world that is bad is a result of ignorance of one kind or another. Singapore may be reaching out cautiously, but at least they are reaching.
The Lighter Side of Possibility
I found some little known talents that our prominent bloggers might share with the world. Little known outside Web 2.0 Robert Scoble, Richard MacManus and Michael Arrington were once members of an elite dance quartet formed by Tim O'Reilly. The 4th, Pete Cashmore, decided on an alternate path with no less startling results which we are unable to show due to content. The group did maintain a single lithograph of their wayward member's route to fame. Where do you think the name Mashable came from? Who knows what cultural and artistic refinements await the students of bloggers?