Maybe all of our elementary and secondary public schools will finally make it into the 21st Century.
In a recent issue of Education Week, an online newsletter published for K-12 educators, included an article about Obama’s emphasis on technology and K-12 education as a key component of his economic stimulus plan.
Great, I guess.
Of course it’s great that Obama understands the importance of improving access to broadband technology and sufficient computers in all schools so that students can use the Internet in the classroom. And of course that is where education is headed globally. The United States must absolutely improve its education model to incorporate in a significant way the new ‘dominant tool of our cultural conversation’ (to borrow from Neil Postman, who used that term decades ago to describe television).
The use of media technology such as the Internet, when used the right way, can revolutionize education, making it work for everyone, not just for those in schools and school districts with economic means. Obama is right that our hopes of future economic strenghth begins in excellent education for all young people right now.
What I want to know is how, specifically, do Obama and his administration envision the use of technology such as the Internet in classrooms? My hope is that a good chunk of education using media technology incorporates critically understanding how media technologies work, how media differ from each other, how message are produced, and how all tools of conversation can be analyzed and critically examined. In short, I hope that media literacy is part of the package. It’s one thing to make it available; It’s another thing entirely to make it useful.
The Education Week article did mention the need for lots of professional development for educators as part of the plan. Yes, absolutely! There are many media scholars and media literacy organizations, including non-profit organizations such as the LAMP, that truly understand how to use media and also how to examine media within larger contexts such as education, social interaction, and even politics and the economy.
It’s time to get the word out to the new administration. If you’re serious about media technology in schools, we’re here to help deliver it the right way.
–Katherine G. Fry, PhD