in the Digital Age
is the Right Time?
No Child Left Behind
Have Touched the Future, I Teach"
Frank B. Withrow:
(Stories are in Adobe .pdf format.
Click Here to get
the free Acrobat Reader software)
EDUCATION IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Frank B. Withrow. PhD
Whereas the USA once led the world in higher education and was the first nation to understand the social and economic value of universal K-12 education we have fallen behind other nations. We therefore must regain our educational leadership. The USA must make commitments to public school learning or it will not remain a viable and competitive global economic power.
The USA produces only 70,000 scientists and engineers annually while
China and India produce 700,000 each. The USA is in danger of falling
behind such countries if we are not willing to expend appropriate
funds on education. Consequently, we are in danger of loosing
our famous American "know
how" and "can do" abilities. The USA must be more
efficient and smarter in providing universal education.
The machine that drives the USA economy is the quality of our educated citizens. The World War II GI Bill of Rights enabled us to produce well-educated citizens who propelled us into the modern digital age. Failure to modernize our public schools will result in a national decline. Our youth use cell phones, Ipods, telecommunications and computers while our schools use blackboards and almost quill pens on parchment. We must rethink learning for a modern digital age.
By the 1500s the Guttenberg Press enabled modern mass education to become possible through (1) cheap books and (2) universal libraries. Books and libraries stored information, knowledge and experience of past generations and passed them on to future generations. If you were literate books opened the world to you. Schools were an amazing intervention. The Socratic model of an all-knowing scholar sitting at one end of a log tutoring a pupil at the other end was made universally possible by books. Books, classrooms, libraries and teachers expanded Socratic dialogue to all learners.
Schools were designed for an agrarian society. The six-hour day allowed
students to do farm chores and the 180-day year to help plant and
harvest crops. As long as a century ago this was an obsolete model. The
U. S. Department of Education's report "Prisoners of Time" in1994
detailed the crippling effect this outmoded model had on learning. In
the modern digital age society can provide the resources that enable
learners to learn at anytime and anyplace. Digital learning
libraries can be available 24/7 every week of the year. Video on
demand, interactive lessons, lectures by outstanding scholars and
real life simulations can be available to all learners. Such a redesign
and organization of learning requires major political and pedagogy
shifts and requires a different concept of learning and school management.
Assessment of educational progress becomes authentic evaluations
of what a student learns through student portfolios, project based
experiences, and products. Individual Learning Plans envision a wide
range of technological and human resources available for all learners.
The schoolhouse should be open from at least 7 AM to 7 PM daily. Students
can schedule their learning times as needed. For example, if a student
is working on a science project they may need to spend the entire
day in the laboratory. Resources and staff should be available
for students as needed.
Professional staffing will become differentiated including
content-based specialist, generalists and learner-based tutors. Some
great teachers that are "entertaining"
and inspiring will remain as lecturers. Other teachers may
specialize in assessment. The learners as well as the teachers will
have the technological resources that enable them to produce as well
as use digital resources. Essential in such a school is a clear understanding
of critical media skills, that is, how to analyze information and
make competent judgments with respect to the information's
validity and reliability. The modern youngster lives in a sea of
We live in an ocean of data.
Data becomes information when we organize it.
Information becomes knowledge when we act upon it.
Knowledge becomes wisdom when it stands the test of time.
In 1975 P.L. 94-142 mandated that all children are entitled to a free and appropriate public education. We must ensure that this dream is a reality. We must have the vision to bring about this major reform. Every child is entitled to the very best education we as a society can provide. No Child Left Behind expands that right.
What are the barriers to such A Better Learning Environment?
1. Time and tradition.
2. How to certify learning
3. Learners are different today
4. Public support
How can we change the educational system? What is the Challenge and Charge?
1. Enlist media as an agent of change.
2. Develop town meetings across the nation that explore and foster better learning environments.
3. Recruit corporate support for this campaign.
4. Create a public relations campaign for better learning environments
5. Develop a consortium of national associations
6. Establish in USED an Assistant Secretary for Reform in the Digital Age
The USA should lead the world in education. The greatest resource for peace in the world is an educated population. In 1990 161 nations at Jomtiem, Thailand agreed to at least six years of education for all children around the world.
Why not make this a reality?
Dr. Withrow was the Executive Director of Presidents Johnson and
Nixon's Presidential National Committee for the Handicapped and was
the Chief Technologist for the US Department of Education for a number
of years. He has been a classroom teacher, principal and Director
of Research and Clinical Services in the Department of Children and
Family Services for the State of Illinois. He was also the Director
of Development for the NASA Classroom of the Future.
Any questions or comments about this website,
please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABLE Learning Company
A Better Learning
108 High Ridge Drive, Stafford, VA 22554
2007 - 2011 Frank B. Withrow