Industry has developed a variety of models for efficient production and distribution of goods and services. Many of these have been applied to education, with varying degrees of success. For example, the production line, batch processing, and the supermarket are emulated in our egg-crate classrooms, cohort groups, and periodic progress to higher grades, certificates, and degrees. The supermarket model offers user choice, and this opportunity is expanded at higher grade levels.
Quality control is another industrial concept. In the older production lines, quality is measured at the end of the process and problems are sent back to be corrected. Deming taught the Japanese automobile industry a better way. Correcting problems at the stage of production where they occur produces a better product, faster, and at lower cost. The computer revolution added a third model, customized production.
The education analog of the old production line uses social promotion to move students through the system and assigning grades of A - F. As a result, many students graduate with sub-standard knowledge, skills and aptitudes. Correcting problems where they occur is limited by teacher load. It is practical only in advantaged schools with small classes, advanced students, and appropriately trained teachers. Technology and learning management systems support individualized education and enable a diversity of needs to be supported, monitored and evaluated simultaneously.
Social promotion produces failures, but the alternative systems are difficult to evaluate because standardized tests are based on mental exercises and trivia that have little relevance to the world the student will work and live and grow in after graduation. Our evaluation systems need to be reoriented to reflect identified needs and performance objectives.
Industry conducts market research to translate customer needs into products and services. ADDIE is the equivalent process in education - Assess, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate. Assessment must be focused on the present and future; otherwise our certificates and degrees are as relevant as a drivers license to fly an airplane.
Druckerís Theory of the Business highlighted relevance as a source of failure in industry. He identified the need for congruence between mission, competencies and environment. Have we, as educators, assessed the world (environments) in which our graduates will live and work? Do we design, develop and implement learning to prepare students for that world? Do we continually evaluate outcomes and the success of our products before and after graduation? And do we benchmark our success against local AND global standards?
R&D budgets are an essential for growth and development of education and training. Collaborative research, shared findings, and adaptation for different needs, cultures, and environments are crucial to design and develop relevant and effective learning. This Journal is part of a global movement to improve teaching and learning by knowing what to apply and applying what we know.
|May 2006 Index|