Learning Activity 8-C-1

I think changes in education have been slow to materialize. The nature of the industry is such that changes happen slower than in other sectors. As an economist, I believe that incentives matter and it is not different in the education industry. From the perspective of faculty, there are not a lot to personally gain from adopting new technologies and for embracing change. Most teachers K-12 are tenured and in a system that does not reward or encourage excellence.  It is not different in many universities across the country.   Thus, teachers know that improvements would probably not mean higher pay or even recognition.  Many times is the other way around.  Pushing for change may actually put teachers in a weird position with other teachers or even administrators.  From the perspective of administrators, it is similar.  Most K-12 schools have a monopoly over students in certain areas and thus have little incentive to improve.

The consequences have been showing for a while in the results of our educational system. A Pew Research Study explains that “(o)ne of the biggest cross-national tests is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which every three years measures reading ability, math and science literacy and other key skills among 15-year-olds in dozens of developed and developing countries. The most recent PISA results, from 2015, placed the U.S. an unimpressive 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.”  The United States have been slowly losing positions in this ranking.

Our schools are to blame!  At younger age, students in the United States do well.  However, the longer students stay in American schools the more they lag behind other countries.  Our Schools are just not good.  I would like to say that all I saw in here would change education for the better.  I wanted to say that more technology would be used in the classroom and this technology would translate into students in American Schools learning more and recovering positions of the United States in international rankings.

However, unless the system change it is hard to see education in the United States changing that quickly. We have to rely on internal incentives of teachers. Most teaching professionals do become teachers to make a difference in students’ lives. However, without a systematic approach to improvements in performance, it’s hard to see the U.S. educational system change from within.

I see the world in 2020, not much different than the world in 2017. Changes in communication and online resources will continue to improve. However, real changes in our educational systems are unlikely in this time frame. The continued improvements in communications will allow for more students to take online courses. However, I believe that students will continue to take “brick and mortar” classes but they will mix these classes with some online courses in both college (in a larger degree) and in K-12 (in a smaller scale).

Pressure for change could happen if the population was growing fast and school districts needed more resources for new buildings. However, population growth has declined and tighter immigration policies should slow population growth even further. I think there is more hope for collaboration in research when true collaboration can make innovation flourish. Still, potential problems with patents and copyrights are likely to slow the pace of true collaboration worldwide. I don’t think the world in 3 years will be significantly different than the world today. Maybe we will have more Facebook pages and less paper but our lives and educational systems are likely to be very similar. Thus, being a teacher in 2020 will not be significantly different from being a teacher today.  Yes, it’s likely that I will be changing more online courses but I’ll still teach face-to-face courses too.

We learned a lot of things in this class. I think they are useful and I think the use of blogs, wikis, Google Docs, and sharing will increase slowly over time, not as much as one would think.  From my perspective, I get students in College who learned very little math in 12+ years of schooling.  My Community College is in a relatively high income district, I can only imagine what goes on in lower income districts (schooling in Illinois is financed mostly through property taxes).

With all these issues, I do still believe that I can make a difference in the lives of students.  I want to improve my teaching; I want to teach students something that will help them do well as professionals; I do question whether what we teach in my discipline is the most important for our students.  I will try to continue to try to excel and improve in my profession.  I will continue to think about how I teach something more relevant in the age of instant information.  What students really need to know?  I don’t know how to answer that but I think that collaboration and openness in the classroom can speed up the process.  I want to be a catalyst for change but I also think that we must also have system wide changes.

However, the truth today is that the educational environment is setup in a way that it slows change down; it does not speed it up.  Maybe great politicians will come up with great ideas of changes.  Maybe great administrators will execute these changes; Maybe administrators will choose great teachers to lead the change in education.  If this is the case, the internet would play a key role in this change.  Classrooms would have to be opened up.  We would have to change what we teach students.  We would have to make technology our partner to allow students to learn to use technology to leverage learning.  We would truly have to learn to collaborate online.  I hope we are all ready, this class is the beginning to get me ready!  Thank you for the class, Andre



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