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Where is the stimulus to innovate our education system?

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In today's tumultuous economy, we can hardly go a week without hearing of economic stimulus. We hear about the Cash for Clunkers  bill, U.S. bank bailouts, and corporate bonuses. The U.S. government even started a website called recovery.gov where a user can play with an interactive map to see where money was invested, peruse inspection reports, and explore tracking of funds.

 

For better or worse, it is fascinating to watch how the government has been when trying to address, deal with, and solve the crisis. Imagine if we, as a society, had this same sense of urgency about our education system. What types of stimulus efforts could be imagined and implemented if folks realized the crisis of the American education system? Here are some of my proposed bills:

  • Create a set of pilot schools whose charge it is implement innovative uses of handheld devices like the i-Touch.

  • Create a set of pilot schools where no websites are censored. This involves a educating students on finding appropriate sites and effective searching skills. Perhaps if hard research were available schools would realize how off the mark they are with blocking websites. (I know, imaging a world where kids can really access information at schools that is freely available to the rest of society.)

  • Create a set of pilot schools to implement innovative uses of basic cell phones in schools. An easy idea is using the cell phone as a student response system. Sure some teachers are doing great things with this technology, but it is not widely accepted.

  • Start a cash for clunker computers programs where schools get a rebate for turning in old, outdated computers for the purchase of new, powerful computers. The computers could be recycled to less fortunate families if they met minimum requirements.

  •  Every school is allocated a technology coordinator for at least 2 years. This person would help teachers incorporated technology into their classes.

  •  Provide funds where every superintendent and principal engages in professional development about technology, 21st Century skills, and global education. Perhaps a stellar set of online courses could be developed with the assistance of the best minds in the country and the world.

  • Provide funds for educational games that engage students. This idea is based on Scott McLeod's blog post titled Do most educational games suck?

  • Support and build on grassroots educational stimulus projects. There are so many interesting stories about grassroots economic stimulus projects. My favorites includes the 3/50 Project and the 10% Shift. What if every community business gave back 1% of their sales to schools and/or educational initiatives? What if community members donated 2 hours a month to local schools and local school initiatives? What if we, as a society, made concerted efforts to give back to the education system?   

I am sure there are tons of innovative ideas out there that need a 'stimulus' to get off the ground. How bad do U.S. schools need to fail to convince the government that our education system is in a recession? Do we need to wait until an entire generation of students graduate without the necessary skills and dispositions to contribute to a knowledge and innovation society? What will be education's stimulus to innovate?

Jayson Richardson
University of North Carolina Wilmington

 


2 Comments

Hi Jayson,

Great post, and you make some interesting points. You know, it's funny how slow things move in education. Being in the "educational change" and "educational games" business myself, I'm learning first-hand how culturally entrenched the status quo is. Also, it's funny because there's really only 1-2 opportunities for teachers to meaningfully try something new (i.e. the stimulus initiative) on a large scale. I say this because once the year is up and running (being a teacher myself and working with teachers on my initiative) there's hardly enough time to breath. There's summer and the semester break. Two chances per year = slow change.

I would love, if you get the chance, to learn how you would envision a grassroots educational stimulus package working. The concept seems paradoxical, but the dollars couldn't go to a more worthy cause. I would love to learn.

Bests,
Regan Ross.

Thanks for the comment Regan. I will give thought to making my next post about grassroots educational projects!

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Recent Comments

  • Jayson Richarson: Thanks for the comment Regan. I will give thought to read more
  • Regan Ross: Hi Jayson, Great post, and you make some interesting points. read more

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