FAS's Kay Howell on the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust Act

Federation of American Scientists’ Kay Howell, who authored the research roadmap for the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust Act, has a column in eLearn explaining why passage of the act is so critical:

Today’s students are not only comfortable with technology-they know how to use it effectively to solve problems, find resources, and build networks of people with shared interests. So why do we send them to places of learning and ask them to leave their technology tools at home? Why do the cookies on my ten-year old daughter’s computer know more about what she likes to read and how she likes to locate information than does her teacher?

The answer, unfortunately, is fairly simple: As a nation we’ve been unwilling to make the investments necessary to give our kids and their teachers the same productivity tools used in the computer, pharmaceutical, energy, and other industries. The federal government funds substantial research and development (R&D) initiatives that translate into advancements in key US industries-and those investments pay off handsomely. Federally funded R&D, performed mostly in US colleges and universities, leads to improved productivity through better processes, products, and services, and the graduate students that participate in the R&D eventually end up as workers in the related industries. It’s a great model that has served our country well.

Unfortunately, there is no such R&D model for the education sector.

It’s a good read. And once again, I urge you to write your congresspeople in support of the bill and get your friends and colleagues to do the same.

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About Michael Feldstein

Michael Feldstein is co-Publisher of e-Literate, co-Producer of e-Literate TV, and Partner in MindWires Consulting. For more information, see his profile page.
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3 Responses to FAS's Kay Howell on the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust Act

  1. tom abeles says:

    We have to remember that our children can program Tivo and are called upon to help program our cell phones. Marc Prensky makes a distinction between digital natives and digital immigrants. The problem is not just having the hardware available but the ability to delvier “digital as a second language” or DSL.

    Education in general is a lagging indicator. It is cheap to buy hardware and it can be counted. What is expensive and not bricks and mortar is the wetware reprogramming, especially when rewards are not there for acquisiton of Digital knowledge, particularly in the post secondary institutions in general and schools of education in particular.

  2. You know, I have to say that I don’t buy the whole “digital immigrants” argument and I don’t have any idea what you mean when talk about “wetware reprogramming”.

  3. tom abeles says:

    hi michael

    The dichotomy between digital immigrants and digital natives is a useful, but imperfect, metaphor. But in the academy, particularly in the arena of undergraduate teaching, I think the argument can be defended given the evidence up to this point, when the other points here and a previous post are considered.

    wetware basically is a term used to describe the human brain. It is essentially asking for an “attitude adjustment” which is constrained, in part by the demands of the traditional pub/perish requirements where rewards are not given for teaching or for pushing the institution to change. It is also tempered by certain intellectual calcification where energy devoted to becoming techno literate takes away from time in the intellectual specialty arena of the professorate.

    Both are complex and its a bit like the old joke of using numbers to tell a joke rather than repeating the joke to all who already know it.

    cheers

    tom