AURELIUS | Bracing students for a quickly changing global economy, much less a successful public school education, was at the heart of one educational expert's words of wisdom Thursday.
In "Preparing Students for the 21st Century," founder and chairman of the International Center for Leadership in Education Bill Daggett shared his thoughts on why today's school officials need to educate themselves about tomorrow's technological innovations.
"Because schools are still caught in the 20th century," he said.
For approximately 150 area school board members, superintendents and administrators, Daggett struck a clarion call compelling attendees to think about how to adapt instruction to an ever-changing technology landscape. One in which students are often ahead of the game.
Daggett pointed out the scope of the Internet has evolved from an informational source with one-way search capability to two-way interactivity with the advent of social media to yet a new and third "anticipatory" application.
Characteristics of this new realm, he said, involve the use of artificial intelligence and deep data mining that has the potential to peer into every day web searches, once presumably private, and customize advertising, for example, or trail who emails who and when.
"(Students) are leaving a digital footprint that will follow them for a lifetime," he said. "The web is about to go through a major change.
"And we're paying zero attention to this because we're all consumed by the latest requirement imposed upon us."
From Google and Facebook, he said, has emerged a third entity, Wolfram Alpha. This search engine not only offers access to facts, but offers mobile "course assistant" apps students purchase that can do their math and English homework for them.
"So then," Daggett asked, "What's the purpose of school?"
Using sobering statistics demonstrating an ever-widening gap between available jobs and those with adaptable skills to fill them, he portrayed a less than sunny picture of the state of American public education as it produces workers to employ in a competitive international economy.
"We are preparing kids for a world we can hardly conceptualize," Daggett said.
While graduation rates are rising among 18-year-olds, he said, "simultaneously they're the least prepared for the future."
Common Core, No Child Left Behind and other well-intentioned initiatives are among the latest solutions that become the newest enemy, he said. These ideas are already outdated because today's technology has moved past them.
"Why," he said, "because culture trumps strategy."
Daggett implored the school officials to consider districtwide systemic change, with an emphasis in employing relevant technology, in how learning is offered for students.
"I come to you tonight wanting you to understand our schools aren't failing," he said. "The status quo can't be the answer, we've got to find a way to provide all students, and I emphasize all, an academically rigorous and relevant educational experience."