ISTE Advocacy Platform Now Includes Support for Adult Education

I’m not sure when this was officially unveiled but I thought it was worth noting here that ISTE’s Advocacy Platform now includes support for adult education:

“ISTE supports adult education policy that leverages digital tools to support adult learners and assist them in acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to work and participate successfully in today’s high-tech society.”

Obviously that’s very broadly worded so as to include adult learners at all levels, (which makes sense) but taken together with ISTE’s digital equity position, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to envision an emphasis on low-income, lower-skilled, and underserved populations. This is new and potentially significant, as ISTE has significant advocacy influence in the ed-tech policy space.

It’s Not About Technology

Andrew Leonard, writing in Salon about the reaction among the Silicon Valley set to Jill Lepore’s critique of the theory of disruption innovation in the current New Yorker:

But let’s be clear here: Lepore is not engaging in an anti-technology screed. She’s training her artillery on the way Silicon Valley rationalizes its own behavior as some kind of natural law of progress.

It’s possible to be critical of the way Silicon Valley is agitating for regulatory reform that is designed to nurture Silicon Valley business models without being “anti-technology.” It’s possible to explore the question of how the current pace of technological innovation is affecting jobs and inequality without being anti-technology. It is possible to be critical of how, in the current moment, technology appears to be serving the interest of the owners of capital at the expense of workers without being anti-technology. It’s even possible to love one’s smartphone and the Internet while at the same time critiquing run-amok “change the world” hype.

Analogy of the Day

From the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Beth Noveck, the former U.S. deputy chief technology officer for open government and a co-author of the Aspen Institute report, likens proposals to create a public database of nonprofit financial information to recent efforts by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make government-collected data on health trends available online.

By making such data publicly available, researchers can, for instance, map the spread of infectious diseases in real time, says Ms. Noveck.

When it comes to nonprofit finances and accountability, if your first thought is “malaria,” then I’m guessing you are not too confident that things are going well.

Steve Jobs on Technology and Education, 1996

From an interview with Steve Jobs in Wired, published 15 years ago:

Q: Could technology help by improving education?

I used to think that technology could help education. I’ve probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I’ve had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent.

It’s a political problem. The problems are sociopolitical. The problems are unions. You plot the growth of the NEA [National Education Association] and the dropping of SAT scores, and they’re inversely proportional. The problems are unions in the schools. The problem is bureaucracy. I’m one of these people who believes the best thing we could ever do is go to the full voucher system.

I have a 17-year-old daughter who went to a private school for a few years before high school. This private school is the best school I’ve seen in my life. It was judged one of the 100 best schools in America. It was phenomenal. The tuition was $5,500 a year, which is a lot of money for most parents. But the teachers were paid less than public school teachers – so it’s not about money at the teacher level. I asked the state treasurer that year what California pays on average to send kids to school, and I believe it was $4,400. While there are not many parents who could come up with $5,500 a year, there are many who could come up with $1,000 a year.

If we gave vouchers to parents for $4,400 a year, schools would be starting right and left. People would get out of college and say, “Let’s start a school.” You could have a track at Stanford within the MBA program on how to be the businessperson of a school. And that MBA would get together with somebody else, and they’d start schools. And you’d have these young, idealistic people starting schools, working for pennies.

They’d do it because they’d be able to set the curriculum. When you have kids you think, What exactly do I want them to learn? Most of the stuff they study in school is completely useless. But some incredibly valuable things you don’t learn until you’re older – yet you could learn them when you’re younger. And you start to think, What would I do if I set a curriculum for a school?

God, how exciting that could be! But you can’t do it today. You’d be crazy to work in a school today. You don’t get to do what you want. You don’t get to pick your books, your curriculum. You get to teach one narrow specialization. Who would ever want to do that?

These are the solutions to our problems in education. Unfortunately, technology isn’t it. You’re not going to solve the problems by putting all knowledge onto CD-ROMs. We can put a Web site in every school – none of this is bad. It’s bad only if it lulls us into thinking we’re doing something to solve the problem with education.

Lincoln did not have a Web site at the log cabin where his parents home-schooled him, and he turned out pretty interesting. Historical precedent shows that we can turn out amazing human beings without technology. Precedent also shows that we can turn out very uninteresting human beings with technology.

It’s not as simple as you think when you’re in your 20s – that technology’s going to change the world. In some ways it will, in some ways it won’t.