The current buzz in education is about bringing technology into the classroom. I am fully on board with the idea. The time as come for education to fully embrace the wonders that technology can bring to the classroom. I remember as a teenager watching physics and chemistry video lessons in my high school in rural Jamaica. When I could stay awake they were great. Staying awake post lunch was always a problem.
The current rush to bring computing devices into the classroom is both admirable and dangerous. The danger is that the implementations will be haphazard and teach kids the wrong things about technology. I would love to focus on the admirable part. I love technology and often I am out on my little branch working and ignoring the current fad, because I have already been there. In the 1990’s while in college I taught myself enough Pascal to be dangerous and later learned to assemble my own computer and explore alternate operating systems alone with Windows. From playing around I learned a lot about technology and about how I learn. The freedom to deconstruct the hardware and software was vital to my experience. I would suggest that giving kids that freedom will be beneficial to us all.
However, we must not become reliant on the technology to teach. Teachers are still the most important part of the equation. Teachers need to go back to the basics. Our classrooms need to revert to the apprentice models. Our teachers need to be competent and fluent in technology so that the technology will be integral but not overpowering. The balance is hard to achieve especially with the sums of money that are at stake. The big technology companies want to sell a product. They are not interested in education. This leads to school systems buying expensive hardware and software and loosing focus on the educating part of the mission. Technology is a tool, not the destination.
The increased introduction of closed hardware and software to children will likely stymie their development. I would like to see schools adopt an open hardware and software platform. These are the key design elements I would focus on.
1. Open hardware
2. Open software
3. Student support
5. Hardware and software as an integrated learning environment.
I use to worry about privacy issues and the government’s ability to take our freedoms at a whim. Since the commercialization of the internet I no longer have those fears, because we already have no privacy. The current questions are; how is the data being used and do we have a right to know that our data is being mined? Many think that privacy equates to freedom, but it does not. Freedom is lost when the individual is unaware of her loss of privacy. I opposed “The Patriot Act” in 2001 and still do today. My problem is not that the government is allowed to violate our privacy, but that violation can be kept from us. The detergent of sunshine is needed everywhere.
That detergent has not been direct at the few large private sector data miners that control all our information. We live in a Capitalist society where markets function best with accurate and up-to-date data. Once you understand that fact the rest of the story is simple. If you want a functioning system you have to provide your data. Furthermore Capitalism should not be equated with democracy or freedom.
The proliferation of data mining by the private sector has not being noticed by the general population, but that dragnet is much wider and deeper that the government could ever be.
We have willingly and unwittingly given all our meta-data to large data miners. I am more concerned about them than I am about the government. The risk of nefarious use of your data is not limited to the government. The powers given to the government to spy is provided and voted on by the congress and directed by the congress. The only difference between the government and the private sector data miners is that the private section is going after your cash while the government is using it for security. I would like all of it to be disclosed.
I live by the open source philosophy. All data wants to be free and should be free. Not free as in no monetary value, but as in free to do as each individual chooses. I may not understand all the data collected, but if all of it is accessible to the general public the many eyes will keep the collectors in check. Each citizen is the check and the balance. In this age where data mining is so easy and valuable the political class no longer represents the individual.