Time for Transformation
Donald G. Perrin
Our world is transformed by Decision Sciences, tools that optimize management of operations, networks, and systems in our daily activities. Decision Sciences solve complex problems with large numbers of variables; decision variables (ones we control), and environmental variables (factors that influence outcomes that we cannot control). Decision science is based on operations research, system design, and a mathematical tool called Linear Programming (not to be confused with computer programming). It is the basis of powerful search and selection tools such as Google and the American Airlines booking system. It is used to optimize regional and global transportation networks and supply chains (road, rail, sea and air), inventories (food, raw materials, and consumer goods), and electronic networks (telephone systems, power grids). Decision sciences optimize routing (USPS, UPS, FedEx) and travel (Google Maps, Sigalert.com and Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS)). Decision sciences support business and financial operations (investing, market research, new product development, optimizing planning and management to maximize profit and minimize risk.)
Surely these powerful management tools have a role to play in transforming education! Where do we start? Begin by defining relevant goals and objectives to prepare students for their role in advancing social, political, and economic needs of their world, both present and future. Follow up by optimizing our learning systems to ensure high motivation, relevant learning experiences, and effective implementation.
Knowing that every learner is unique, we need the power of decision sciences to dynamically optimize learning at every step. That requires a database base of knowledge and skills already acquired (like R2D2 in Star Wars), diagnostic-prescriptive tools to optimize learning, and a road map to guide the learning process toward established and dynamically changing goals (Individualized Education Program - IEP). The process must be sensitive to the personality, awareness, learning preferences, priorities and passions of the learner.
In an era where funds are diminished, class size is growing, and even the youngest students are competent in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), it is time for a paradigm shift to optimize technologies for learning management and delivery, and optimize human qualities (teachers) for counseling, guidance and tutoring and using the diagnostic-prescriptive tools to meet individual learner needs. The solution begins in teacher training institutions, magnet schools, and successful research that points us toward interactive multimedia, learning objects and learning management systems.
Are we ready to transform education, or will those who use decision sciences and state-of-the-art technologies make the transformation for us?
This issue of the Journal features current research from many countries – Canada, India, Iran, Finland, Russia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and the USA. It ranges in scope from the latest mobile interactive technologies and social networking to language learning, curriculum development, and instructional design. The editors are grateful for the large number of authors submitting papers, and the reviewers are working very hard to keep up. We expect to greatly expand the number of reviewers in the near future.
|March 2009 Index|