Project Inkwell: A Noble Venture

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It appears conventional wisdom that electronic tools have generated a strong potential for more effective and efficient ongoing individual learning today and in the future.

An interesting difference exists between those who build tools for learners to use directly, immediately, and at relatively low costs, and those who aggregate resources about learning into corporate structures. These are more than differences of scale. They are similar to differences that exist between public policies and personal practices. The two don’t come together without someone injecting intervening value judgments that control additional rules for individuals to follow.

Project Inkwell participants represent numerous corporations that offer ideas and products usable in schools. These participants intend to be the standards body for computing platforms for pre-K through 12 education.

They want to greatly increase the size and effectiveness of the pre-K through 12 education technology market by managing the synthesis of functional specifications for a ubiquitous computing platform to be employed when and where students and educators engage in learning, teaching, and professional tasks. This specification is meant to describe minimal functionality while encouraging innovation and differentiation of the Inkwell certified devices.

Their initial product is a functional specification for a one-to-one–centered hardware platform with a relevant utility, uniformity, and upgradeability to enable the very best technology-based education for all students.

Kudos to those who use their own resources to create standards that permit themselves to work together. This appears as an effort to yield noble result.

Heads up to independent software vendors. Get your products into the market sooner than later. Your competition may increase beyond your control if you delay.

Cautions to those who give priority to learning in and out of schools with whatever technology they have, whether stick and dust, pencil and paper, or digital substitutes. Watch for another elephant in your learning environment in the distant future.

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Robert Heiny
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in [I]The Encyclopedia of Education [/I](1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for [I]TuxReports[/I].com.