Vision of Education: 21st-Century Learning Laboratory

74>Kevin Hogan describes the Microsoft and Philadelphia grand experiment in education to create the definitive 21st-century learning laboratory.

Above and beyond all the high-tech wizardry, says Ellen Savitz (Philadelphia School District Senior Vice President for Development), the school’s mission is to create a next-generation learning laboratory, where new curricula and learning methods will be devised and tested in conjunction with all the gadgetry. It will also be a research and development complex, where educators can witness the action and then go home and duplicate it in their own districts.

Kudos to the corporate effort by both the private and public sectors. Bold moves seem consistent with the dynamic global changes that demand new visions of education and of schooling.

This experiment will likely attract increasing attention and hopefully some imitation. Both will probably carve out party chatter time among education graduate students at Tier One and Two institutions. Regardless of the success of the experiment, it will stimulate thinking about new education career patterns beyond today’s public school instruction and administration titles. This is all to the good.

Yet I wonder why such an expensive grand plan should exist. Technologies turn obsolete within months. Learning occurs one student at a time. I don’t know the answers, but these questions come to mind.

How many Tablet PCs and UMPCs would the investment in this experiment provide for students today?

Is this experiment an attempt to provide economies of scale? Will learning in the 21st century occur differently from yestereday and today? Will learning require corporate strategies instead of individual initiative?

In any case, this experiment is an exciting, noble effort. Let’s look and listen…

What is your vision of education in 2010, just four years from now?

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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.