Several years ago in a New York Times column by Virginia Heffeman, “Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade,” she reviewed a book,Now You See It,” by Cathy N. Davidson.  The arguments still apply today:

“Simply put, we can’t keep preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist. We can’t keep ignoring the formidable cognitive skills they’re developing on their own. And above all, we must stop disparaging digital prowess just because some of us over 40 don’t happen to possess it. An institutional grudge match with the young can sabotage an entire culture.

 When we criticize students for making digital videos instead of reading “Gravity’s Rainbow,” or squabbling on instead of watching “The Candidate,” we are blinding ourselves to the world as it is. And then we’re punishing students for our blindness. Those hallowed artifacts — the Thomas Pynchon novel and the Michael Ritchie film — had a place in earlier social environments. While they may one day resurface as relevant, they are now chiefly of interest to cultural historians. But digital video and Web politics are intellectually robust and stimulating, profitable and even pleasurable.”

Fast forward to today!

For those of us committed to technology skills training in the Process & Manufacturing industries, it is good to see education starting to catch up.  Beginning with interactive laser videodisc technology and culminating with CD-ROM and video-based e-Learning, we have seen major advances in skills acquisition as we have progressed into the dominant learning culture of our workforce.  While we had watched our education system bogged down in their old ways — with an almost-exclusive use of the “lecture/reading/testing” methodology — it is obvious that with leaders like Davidson, “help is on the way!”

However, in the last couple of years, I have begun to notice that education may be catching up with the corporate skills training that once was significantly ahead. 

“Lecture/reading/testing” is still hanging on in the industrial world —- and, for much too long.  The powers-that-be remain blind to the fact that almost 40% of their workforce cannot assimilate anything written beyond a 4th grade reading level.  And, yet, many of their procedures are written by (and, using the vocabulary of) their college-trained engineers.  Is it any wonder that their students have an almost impossible learning challenge.

PowerPoints continue to proliferate the e-Learning environment in far too many organizations.  The antithesis of learning! 

E-Information it is.  E-Learning it is not. 

Using technology as a learning tool is one of the more important answers to the learning deficits in both education and in industrial training.  As Davidson explains, “If you change the technology but not the method of learning, then you are throwing bad money after bad practice.”

More on Wednesday  –  –  –

— Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning
September 17, 2018  (Mondays & Wednesdays)


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