I am a big fan of using technology in education. Information and communications technology (ICT) is tailor-made for application in education. What I don’t understand is why some people are going on about the use of “wireless, low-orbiting satellite, fiber-optic” communications in the context of education. Those hi-tech channels are clearly required when the information is dynamic and real-time, such as in the case of market information and sports events. But what does one gain by beaming down static information — say, history or physics content — as opposed to delivering it as a book (if the information is purely text and pictures), as a DVD if it is audio-video-text, or as content on a hard drive (if the content is rich as well as interactive)?
In other words, “reference information” could of course be delivered real-time but I still don’t understand why it should be. I see a point in beaming down “incremental information” in real time, though. But educational content is not “incremental” — it is reference. Especially so in the case of lower levels of education — say up to and including most undergraduate areas.
I keep in mind my own educational experience. I went to a school (same one from grade 1 to 11) and by all standards, had very limited information. I recall that we had fewer than a dozen textbooks for every grade. They were not massive tomes. They were fairly slim. My estimate is that the information that was contained in all those books would easily fit on a single DVD with room to spare.
My point is that it is not the humongous amount of information that is necessary for a quality education. It is sufficient to sit very quietly with a little bit of information and internalize it appropriately. A bit of uninterrupted time, a bit of good information, a bit of sweat and a bit of inquisitiveness helped most of us get educated. It may have been great if we had Macs and Digital Whiteboards and low-orbiting satellites and digital editing suits and quadruphonic surround sound and IPods and iPhones and Facebook and MySpace and YouTube and broadband internet connections. Or maybe not. I know that I would have ended up futzing around on the web and flunking basic arithmetic.
I could be mistaken. Perhaps some genetic mutation has occurred in the intervening years since I went to school and suddenly kids cannot learn unless they are immersed up to their necks in high-tech gizmos. Perhaps they have lost the ability to learn from internalizing a bit of information. Perhaps they have to be simultaneously SMSing their pals, surfing the web, downloading gazillion giga-bytes of information, creating their digital profiles on FaceBook, capturing hi-def video and editing them to actually learn the basics.
I just don’t know.