IT and Global Learning
Business and education are increasingly dependent on digital information technologies (IT) to support day-to-day operations. IT is the key to productivity, growth, and strategic advantage in the marketplace and is playing an increasing though relatively small role in education and training.
IT hardware, software, and telecommunications equipment now represent ore than 35% of domestic private business investment in the United States, up from 19% from 1980. In 2005, US firms spent nearly $1.8 trillion in IT and telecommunications equipment and software to support 23 million managers, 113 million workers, and an ultimate customer base over 300 million.
When these numbers are extrapolated to global markets and global education and training it is apparent that Information Age systems and services have reached unprecedented levels. It is also clear that new kinds of businesses have emerged, like amazon.com and eBay, that have revolutionized the way business is done. Business, industry and government information, forms, and assistance is now available almost instantly to the masses. In computer terms it is just a few clicks away.
The implications for education and training are mind boggling. Brick and mortar schools, universities and training institutes are now competing with, or becoming, virtual organizations able to supply services globally, anywhere, any-time, with high quality at a competitive price. Schools that once compared themselves with a school across town, or in another state, now compete against national and global benchmarks. The same is true of workers applying for jobs.
There is turmoil in the job market with world flattening, outsourcing, and influx of cheap migrant labor. Social systems are in crumbling because of job loss, increasing medical cost, reduction in social services, and foreign wars. Education is struggling to be relevant and effective in a period of precipitous change. Like business, industry and government it realizes that IT is crucial to being relevant and effective in a period of diminishing budgets and rapid change.
Education as we know it is being morphed to resemble the new business models, the digital firms. Will it become privatized like the medical model? Nationalized like social services? Or corporate like Dell Computer? Will learning become a mass produced commodity, or will it be customized to enhance individual opportunity? Will it be available to everyone or will there be education for the rich and education for the poor?
Industry and government have made many attempts to “fix” education ranging from standards based curriculum to technology based learning, and from “back to Basics (McGuffy Reader)” to “No Child Left Behind”. Most of these attempts failed because the educational enterprise is greatly underfunded and that situation is not likely to change.
Medical research continues to cure and eliminate diseases and conditions that were fatal to previous generations. Education research is moving forward to foster better learning opportunities for the next generation of learners. What can’t be done by governments and corporations with dollars and cents – is emerging as products of the human spirit – creativity, dedication, motivation, and concern for our children. This issue of the Journal has four articles that move us closer to learning in the future that is more personal, more effective, and more exciting than what we can offer today.
Learning is the key to a better future. Global learning is the currency of the information age.
|December 2005 Index|