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  1. #1
    jnxyz is offline jnxyz

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Brisbane area

    Default Editorial: Is Education the cartel that technology like the iPad will break next?

    Imagine if the streaming music app Pandora was the education system. How would that change things?

    Part 1. The obligatory history lesson:
    It happened to the record industry first. Rock n roll/ Pop music was growing up for many teenagers. Your identity, your dose of rebellion. And you payed for it, and the music industry that arose with the ability to sell ‘albums’ on mass in the 70’s when distributable media and players first became widely available paid very little back to artists. And you paid for it again for a piece of magnetized ribbon encased in plastic that required skilled pencil-winding just to keep it running for a couple of years. After that, the music encoded on that cassette tape perished. And you bought it for a third time on CD.

    But that’s where technology turned. CD drives in computers plus early sharing software like Napster meant that instead of getting good at mashing the pause button on your stereo so recording to cassette stopped before the adds kicked in, you could rip a whole CD to MP3 in minutes and upload it for anyone who was also connected to the net. You could also bypass the record stores entirely by downloading songs, for free. It meant you didn’t have to buy your music a fourth time in some other format - you now controlled the file. No it wasn’t legal, but it was what the people wanted.

    Prior to this, a cartel, or “an association of suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition” existed. They held the content and the means of distributing it to you the passive consumer. But since the MP3, things have changed. Now we can choose to buy tracks one at time instead of ten at a time. NOW we have Pandora, and Spotify and Rdio et al. Now Music gets pushed to me. Now I tap a thumbs up button and more great tunes keep rolling in, for free if I put up with the Pandora Ads like four times an hour.

    The ‘cartel’ has been broken, or at least radically forced to change its ways. Dropping DRM restrictions on music files for instance means we the customer can choose when, where and how we want to store and play our music. Funny then that last year was the first time in a decade that the music industry saw an uptick in profits - after finally signing licenses for online services that are very similar to Napster.

    Now get ready to lose your job - so says Jon Evans in a recent article at TechCrunch. His argument is that nearly all industries are facing a similar shakeup as the digital revolution enters a new stage and the stuff of the world moves into silicon. He quotes Chris Dixon’s remarkable idea that just as in the previous four technological revolutions, we are at the stage where new tech is replacing traditional jobs before new digital industries that will appear have had a chance to create new ones. For example, as information has moved online, print newspapers are failing faster than they can hit on a successful digital strategy. Indeed, Wired reported nearly a year ago that some sports journalism jobs have already been taken by software that in part takes advantage of the proliferation of easily accessible data.

    Part 2. MOOC + iPad: What it all means for Education

    “Education is the cartel that technology is going to break next” Heppell, 2011

    “Higher education is just on the edge of the crevasse ... I think even five years from now these enterprises are going to be in real trouble” Clay Christensen, 2013

    So what about the education system? I mean its truly one of the only things that everybody has in common. In Australia its 5 days a week for 12-18 years! It's a system where what you will learn (the content) and how you will learn it (the curriculum) is highly regulated and centrally controlled, with the user/learner having very little say in either. Its also traditionally been an industry slow to adopt new technology. The US Department of Commerce found in 2003 that Education was actually the least IT intensive of 55 major industries. Can a total collapse ala Dixon’s model and something like the dotcom crash be averted?

    There are some signs of change away from . It was in February of this year that TechCrunch declared that ‘Massively Open Online Courses’ (MOOCs) were replacing physical colleges at a ‘crazy fast pace’, citing examples like the 125 million people who had signed up to MITs Open Courseware project, and the fact that some colleges are now offering courses that require no class time at all. Talk about giving the people what they want. Basically, the rise of MOOCs means that while there was a time when you chose one college or university and hoped that each semester there was one interesting subject available to you, the situation now is that anyone with an internet connection can choose a course from the world’s top universities, sometimes for free.

    The other example of Education defying its ‘slow to adopt’ past has been the rise of the iPad. From nowhere in 2010 to outselling all Apple desktops and laptops in schools by mid-2012 by a factor of two, the impact of the iPad in Education has been an immediate one. Tim Cook reported in October 2012 that over 2500 US schools were already using them. It has also been the rise of the app-culture that arrived with the iPad that has impacted learning.As Jonny Ive said when it was first introduced, the iPad is a device that fits to you, not the other way around. So new apps like Zite push news about your interests to you for free in a way that apps by traditional Newspaper publications don’t seem to have ever considered. And the aforementioned Pandora does the same for music. In addition, the free iBooks Author software allows anyone, not just traditional textbook companies to create professional-level textbooks for iPads.

    Here in Australia we’ve seen this uptake also. The ground-roots success of the Slide2learn.net community (disclosure, I’m a co-founder and one of its 1200 members) and the fact that teacher demand is seeing it about to run its 5th iPad-focused event in 3 years is a sign of that. This time its being held in Western Australia, where the University of Western Australia has had an iPad program since 2011, as has the state’s early years sector. These are just some examples which also include early trials in Victoria in 2011 and over 5000 iPads deployed to special needs students by the new Queensland government in 2012. In addition, the Catholic Education Office told the Sydney Morning Herald in July 2012 that 60% of its primary schools had adopted iPads, and the University of Western Sydney announced in December 2012 that 11,000 students will be equipped with iPads.

    So what will the Education system look like once this phase of massive online courses and iPad integration stabilises into a ‘deployment’ phase , and will it be lead by educators or entrepreneurs, a tension that apparently was highly obvious at the recent South by Southwest Education event in the US?

    If you want my opinion, and lets face it, you’ve read this far, I see that what is emerging will be schools based on interest not just on the luck of the draw method we currently have thats decided by postcode, ie where you happen to live. Once MOOC thinking trickles down to a primary school level, and super-capable mobile devices like the iPad are deployed widely enough to provide ubiquitous access, its really only how we keep some strategic face to face time in the mix that remains to be solved.

    Another way of putting what all this means will be to call it self-serve education. Just as self-serve shopping put the super in supermarket in the 70’s and 80’s, the new level that digitally-accessible education is reaching means we can pick and choose our own learning rather than waiting for the ‘grocer’ to assemble it for us.

    Can we actually trust people to choose their own education like they choose toothbrushes, or say, tracks on Pandora? Sugatra Mitra who just won the $1 million dollar TED prize for his ‘school in a wall’ work would say yes. Do yourself a favour and ponder all these questions while watching his presentation here. Does it get a ‘thumbs up’ in your stream of learning content?

    (Please forgive any errors of grammar or punctutation by this part time writer )

    You can read more of Jonathan's ‘jnxyz’ articles here at Mactalk, his Education blog, or at his ‘Appcessories’ review site here. Follow his #EdTech, #Slide2learn and #iPadEd tweets as @jnxyz.

    | Slide2learn.net | Appcessories.info | @jnxyz | uLearning.edublogs.org | Long, long, long time lurker...

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2007


    Ignoring the grammer, but not that "payed" is in the first paragraph....

    I know this is an editorial, but first and foremost, there is a very biased interest in this article, namely, you are pushing for what you are writing about via slide2learn and getting a few different things mixed up along the way.

    Education in schools and universities are drastically different, unis have long tried all kinds of ways to change things, the advent of the open and now credited courses were an extension of lectures being posted online going 10 yrs+ back in Australia. I'm not sure where that is going to end up as it's cheap from all sides, but the quality is often lacking. There are intangibles that can't be gained from watching something or reading online. Personally in the Sciences at Monash the quality of students hitting 3rd year has been in a decade long slide. Monash doesn't really care as its cheaper, and the students don't care as coursework is less impeding on their life. The end result employers are certainly noticing though. Interactive online stuff is a whole other area and would be where some of those problems can be addressed. The bottom line is that where some of the best stuff happens is in tutorials or in science based courses practicals (or insert course with practical components or industry learning). Because of cost cutting most courses at Universities here in Australia have lost an awful amount of useful stuff that probably won't ever return because it actually costs money and can't be done online. My brother did the exact same course I did, but by then lectures were available online for students who missed a class and it meant he just turned up to compulsary pracs and just got by. The uni has now switched all courses to online in that faculty, they aren't seeing the quality in students filtering through to post grad stages anymore and the whole school has been on the verge of several collapses. The disconnected relationship with the students is and will be even moreso the issue there. On the plus side, not spending an entire hrs lecture frantically taking notes is definitely an improvement as it means people can actually listen to what is being said better. There are always good and bad lecturers as well, unfortunately the grant system here means eventually good researchers but bad lecturers get forced into teaching so they hold a stable job. The good lecturers are often disheartened with the online lecture delivery as they lose that interpersonal connection when giving lectures, and when attendances are at record lows its pretty demoralising. All that aside the hours most students spend getting a degree are less than what was required to be considered part time 15 yrs ago, and most aren't putting them in at home, uni has become the thing that gets in the way of a social life and working in Australia as course become more expensive.

    And the connection between unis way of life and schools....is that the uni education facultys drive schools here, they teach, they research and they form our teachers and the admin people, so the cutting edge is where the curriculum comes from. If anything the fault with education here is that people go to school, then uni, and then either become a teacher and go back to school essentially, or get involved in research or admin about education and don't really see much beyond the education world. It's very inward and incestuous.

    As for schools, again everyone remembers the Apple computers in the classroom from the day computers appeared, for a rigid organisation, they are pretty quick to adopt. I went to a very small rural school in the early 80s and even we had them. The school my daughter goes to use iPads, computers, interactive whiteboards etc, but again the time you see the most going on is the face to face interaction, as much as technophiles would like, people are designed to be social and not buried into tech devices, bad teachers will bury them more, good teachers will use them as part of the teaching, but the best parts will almost always come from the teacher. I'm very much into adopting new technologies, but not where it's a distraction and in the end has not much benefit. iPads are another tool, but I doubt will become the main way kids learn with the teachers facetime thrown in for good measure. If it was, we would have even more self obsessed introverted/socially immature people coming through the schools. As it is, some might say we already are.

    Last word, I don't think school courses will ever be based on liking similar to downloading music, there are many things as a parent (and as our parents taught us) that we didn't want to know or do, but funny enough turned out to be useful later on. Guess that is part of being a child, you don't know everything that is good for you!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Jon missed a few things, when promoting his WA conference

    Jonathan, you have confused schooling and credentials with love of learning and education.

    Online is so much cheaper than traditional methods of information transfer.
    Unfortunately technocrats miss the point, that it is about what is done with the acquired knowledge and skills, not about bing first with the latest. Victoria is a brilliant example of early adopter, notebooks for teachers(37,000 notebooks distributed to primary and secondary teachers...but very little pedagogy discussion.
    Essentially a convenient PowerPoint delivery device email send/receive and report writing machine.
    21st century skills?...not valued as they are not assessed. Napalm /.naplan (spell checker! Error..should use one to fix spelling and grammAr)

    School is about credentials! It is competitive, there are certain advantages inherent in the'system'...choose your parents(income and education) and your postcode well.

    Research has demonstrated residence postcode is a strong predictor of exam success, for the past 20years!! Recent federal funding changes allows independent schools(independent of scrutiny? ) to provide scholarships for those in lower socio-economic postcodes, and be paid more than the scholarship

    iPads are just the latest device
    Apple ][ had similar claims made 30 years ago!

    Not much has changed at the top end of schooling, in primary and middle years the iPad revolution is well underway.
    Australia is years ahead of the US
    It is particularly galling that initiatives of 20 years ago, exported to New York are now coming back as 'new'...over 200 Australian teachers work in NY and have taken frameworks, essentials, vels over there...core standards are the next initiative in the US
    They have been here for 15years!!
    Another discussion in US is wireless networks...Vic schools put in wireless 5years ago!

    The key to education is the teacher, face to face, patient and the ability to call on appropriate strategies and resources for each student...anything less is cost cutting and discards that learner as less worthy of the investment. Recall postcode and parents as the determining factor in a students 'success'

    Self serving self promotion of slide to learn has no place in mac talk...there are other better(IMHO) apple teacher groups.
    Slidetolearn appears to be a bunch of apple sponsored educators attempting to cash in on their selection by apple as ADEs

  4. #4
    jnxyz is offline jnxyz

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Brisbane area


    Alternate preface in which I explain why this article may have provoked such good responses:
    Yes I'm over-enthusiastic - in the silly early adopter part of adoption curve - I know that comes thru in my writing - it's why I had that in my twitter description for years. It means I overshoot legitimate concerns with new tech for the sake of engaging constructively with it during the formative time rather than later when its washed over us. But thats me.

    Now to thank Woofy and Garybau for taking the time to craft replies. I'm taking some of your comments on board ('payed') as I look to build out a future longer version of this article. I'd not want there to be an impression I'm suggesting 100% or even 30% iPad time without face to face interaction is where education will go - and I'd bring out my point about the face to face interaction part of the equation being the one that needs working out still a lot more.

    Let's just beg to differ that they are just the latest in a long line of tech in schools - the massive sales growth vs all previous tech deployments alone shows that something different is occurring. How much was an Apple ][ in its day? Did they get deployed 1:1? Was the software free to $10? Could you take it anywhere? etc etc. The one thing that may be the same is the many sites that don't invest properly in planning, in staff training, and in keeping learning not the device the focus. Have to ask if you are educators or teachers yourselves - everyone has an opinion on education but its only rarely that educators get to share theirs.

    You both highlighted the mention of Slide2Learn as a problem. Wanted to reply to that directly seeing as it was only 50 words (3%) of this article and a legit example of the interest in iPads in Australia by teachers. I wrote 1200 or so words on it here a year ago for the same reason - with no accusations of being 'apple sponsored' and 'cashing in' by anyone. If you are interested in facts, when it formed only 2 of 7 organizers where in the ADE program. I mean it's an iPad/iPhone/iPod community - what other kind of educators do you expect it to attract? Further, the 900 or so other Australian members seem to find it useful, and our feedback over the years has been consistently high. All good if there are other groups as well - actually who are the other specific groups?
    Slide2Learn FYI is non-profit and run by volunteers - all of whom are teachers with no incentive except to share and network. There is no 'sponsorship' by Apple, and the fraction of ADEs out of all presenters (who come from all walks of life and education systems) is very small. But thanks Garybau for giving your opinion of what it 'appears', and now I've explained the reality. I invite you to come along to one if thats still possible after this exchange. 'Cashing in' my goodness. Cashing in hundreds of hours of our own time that's what. If there was no demand for such gatherings we wouldn't spend the time believe me, but there is.

    If there was a better mobile learning platform then that's where'd we'd all be there believe me - but there honestly isn't. I myself have worked across enough platforms as a teacher to know - Palm, Linux, OLPC, Android, Pocket PC and iOS.

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