Do We Follow South Korea?
A recent wide-ranging article in the BBC News noted how South Korea has decided it wants to deliver all its curriculum in a digital format by 2015. Ju-Ho Lee, South Korea's Minister of Education, Science and Technology, said that the government would support an open content market with a variety of learning materials. It isn't clear from the article if 'open content market' means Open Educational Resources, but it mentioned that the market would be "aimed at keeping up quality while keeping down costs."
The article brings out a number of interesting points:
- South Korea has carefully controlled the use of information, communication technology in education.
- They also have pushed formal standards so that systems work with each other and maintain high quality.
- There are a number of comments about the Obama Administration's Digital Promise Center, most of which are skeptical of its potential impact.
But two things struck me most in the article. One was a comment we have heard ad nauseum – The Achilles' heel in educational technology is the teachers. "The sad truth is that students can learn just as badly with a class full of computers, interactive whiteboards and mobile technology as they can with wooden desks and a chalkboard," said science and ICT teacher David Weston, founder of the consultancy Informed Education.
The second was the juxtaposition of two photos illustrating the article. One depicted students sitting at their desks, headphones on, staring at their screens. The other showed students engaged with each other with computers there, but not necessarily the focus. (I confess that this looks like it could be a computer store and not a classroom, but I hope it is a classroom.) This reminded me of a comment I saw recently on access4ed.net. An educator who had implemented a 1 to 1 program said, "When we implemented a BYOPD 1:1 program, the most common misconception that we had to overcome was the perception that students would sit in rows and stare at a screen 24/7. We kept repeating that the use might look like 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, sometimes the whole period, sometimes not at all. Sometimes it would be 1:1, other times 2:1, other times 3:1. Our main focus for using the devices was on creation, collaboration, and communication."
Which image is in your future?