walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Can You Have an Education Bubble?

I'm not saying there is one. I'm just wondering if there might possibly be one. It seems unlikely, but bear with me for a moment.

Perhaps you have heard of Salman Kahn of Kahn Academy. I would assume you have, because I think I've seen him interviewed on at least three different programs, but R. hadn't so maybe you haven't either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khan_academy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salman_Khan_%28educator%29

Khan is a fantastically appealing man. I'm just happy he's using all his intelligence and charisma to teach people, gosh, everything, rather than stumping for some appalling ideology. Khan is not a bubble, or an indication of a bubble. However.

Nate Hoffelder visited http://wirelessedtech.com/, Wireless Ed Tech 2011, thinking there might be e-reader stuff there to cover in his truly excellent blog. There's wasn't any e-reader stuff in there, but he blogged about it in a couple posts anyway and I'm really happy he did.

http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2011/10/23/no-one-talked-e-readers-at-the-wirelessedtech-conference-pt-1/
http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2011/10/23/wirelessedtech-conference-pt-2/

Mr. Hoffelder likes the NookStudy for textbooks and was pleased to find teachers/school systems who agreed with him. Then he passed this along from a couple teachers:

"One other interesting detail was that the teachers I met were trying to get the laptops’ software filter changed (or removed, hopefully). It’s set to block Youtube, and that means that when students take the laptop home they can’t watch educational resources like Khan Academy."

Obviously, I think teachers _ought_ to like Khan Academy, but that in no way guarantees that any of them would like it at all. It's nice to hear at least a couple of them do.

Hoffelder covers the Maine program (including their insanely low per student/per year cost). He also comments that a lot of people are trying to build products around smartphones (because they are ubiquitous and make it fairly straightforward to share things, have cameras, etc.), then predicts that products cheaper than smartphones but with many of the same characteristics might be the wave of the future.

A lot of people have tried to come up with technology specific to education over the decades (for suitable definitions of technology and education, for a lot longer than decades) with mixed results. Like everything else, technology tends to get ossified when it gets into schools and becomes awkward, difficult to upgrade and somehow weirdly less useful. But it is interesting to think about how damn _cheap_ all the gadgetry is (and how powerful) and try to imagine what kinds of products could be sold to schools on a worse-is-better basis. And anyone who has looked in supply rooms in schools and seen racks of textbooks sitting there taking up heated and/or air conditioned space can see the appeal of at least some of the technology.
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