July 11, 2016

The news today is reflective of a nation divided.  It includes stories of disillusionment, anger and frustration.  People keep talking past each other.  And, failures in our educational system are partly to blame.

When science and factual knowledge are rejected by many Americans, something is terribly wrong.

And when the rhetoric of politicians is designed to incite fear and anger about one, or more, of our many minorities our country is in serious trouble.  (Have we already forgotten the Joseph McCarthy era?)

And yet, at the same time, we are somewhat closer today to realizing the dreams of opportunity and unity that are still possible.

What are those goals and challenges facing us — and by extension, our companies, our co-workers, and our society — as we move through uncertain times?

Learning can be a key.  And, training, as well as education, can deliver some of those “better answers.”

Certainly, the training requirements of today’s workplace are intensifying.  Not too many years ago the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) undertaken by the Department Of Education reported that, “Growing numbers of individuals are expected to be able to attend to multiple features of information in lengthy and sometimes complex displays, to compare and contrast information, to integrate information from various parts of a text or document, to generate ideas and information based on what they read, and to apply arithmetic operations sequentially to solve a problem.  The results from this and other surveys, however, indicate that many adults do not demonstrate these levels of proficiency.” Obviously, it is no longer enough to simply stand on the assembly line and push one button over and over.  Today’s workplaces — and the global economy — have rendered much of this rote activity obsolete.  And, where repetitive task labor is still required, the corresponding remuneration allows only for a life bordering on subsistence.

In education, too, there is a real gap in learning and it grows with each passing year.  It’s growing because of the unintended arrogance of the “reading elite” — those of us possessing more advanced reading and writing skills — combined with a greater need to use those skills.  According to that NALS report, adults who performed in the lowest two levels of literacy (on a scale of  1 – 5) were far more likely to report receiving food stamps, to be living in poverty, and to be less likely to have voted in a recent election.  “Adults in prison were far more likely than those in the population as a whole to perform in the lowest two literacy levels.” “.  .  .  The continuing process of demographic, social, and economic change within this country could lead to a more divided society along both racial and socioeconomic lines.”

However, let’s get to the real point here.  The opportunities in media instruction that I am challenging you to think about are those instructional designs which should be directed at the current 40% of Americans who are cut off from a reading-based learning culture.  Our future instructional designs must become part of the smartphone, tablet, computer, television learning culture — which has supplanted the printing press as the primary methods for communication.


A more harmonious society is desperate for the rational conveyance of fact-based knowledge.  Including both the fluent and non-fluent readers in our learning solutions can be a major player.

More on Wednesday –  –  –


     — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)