Sunday, January 29, 2017

 

Finland's Schools Push Digital Without Evidence - Yes!

Finland's wrestling match over going digital in the classroom is a critical struggle by a world leading educational system. As Doyle (2016) notes: "Finland has launched an expensive, high-risk national push toward universal digitalization and tabletization of childhood education that has little basis in evidence and flies in the face of a recent major OECD study that found very little academic benefit for school children from most classroom technology" (http://hechingerreport.org/how-finland-broke-every-rule-and-created-a-top-school-system/).

Finland's schools have no reason to fear the digital age. There was a time as digitalization roared into U.S. work force in 1987 in which the economist Robert Solow famously observed: “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” Yet, even by 2011 the Internet as a sector at 3.4% of GDP was more significant to the economy in the United States than agriculture or energy (http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/internet-matters). A 2016 report says the U.S. sector had jumped to 5.4% (top country was Britain, 12.4%). https://www.statista.com/statistics/250703/forecast-of-internet-economy-as-percentage-of-gdp-in-g-20-countries/

It is important for leadership to see that the Internet economy and society is a useful measure able proxy for digital literacy (e.g., digilit). Just as with the business experience in 1987, when digital technology fully enters the field of education in 1-to-1 ubiquitous usage, practitioners will have few mental models of what digital literacy makes possible, negligible experience, and little in success stories to use as models of best practice. Even those who are born into this age often have narrow and minimal digilit skills. Consequently, there will be little evidence of benefit. This too will pass. What should concern us though is that this Internet sector's expansion is severely limited by the talent pool that it can draw on.  What our societies need is a full-court press by educational systems to keep the new digital talent growing their understanding of its potential.

Digilit is a multi-dimensional explosion of what text literacy first enabled.  As a delivery vehicle for new ways for learners to learning by "reading" from a wide range of media, digilit may underwhelm.  But, promoted as a rich digital palette for many kinds of interwoven creations and compositions, digilit will deliver a stronger creative culture. This is the foundation for the powerful Internet economy whose inherent interactivity and collaborative spirit will continue to transform society.


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