Archive for May, 2010

00503 Expect More Arizona

May 3, 2010

As many of you know, our legislative effort to create a significant new digital curriculum office  to support eLearning within Arizona’s K-12 schools was not successful. Although it passed unanimously in House and Senate committees it was held for a month in the Senate without the final hearings needed to complete its passage.  This failure has strengthened our resolve and new pathways are opening.

It and many other worthwhile bills were pushed to the side while the legislature focused on a host of other issues that the world and you are aware of.

A brand new organization Expect More Arizona ( expectmorearizona.org ) launched last week with major meetings in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Yuma. The members are the heavy hitter organizations and entities in business, education, government, economic development, and philanthropy. They evolved from breakthrough work of the P-20 council over the past several years. Their published goals:

“Build public support of education as our state’s top priority;

  • Educate Arizonans about the education continuum and the inter-connectedness of each stage of education;
  • Increase public awareness of the issues affecting education in Arizona and their impact on individuals, local communities and our state;
  • Provide Arizonans with opportunities to be actively involved in strengthening education in our state; and
  • Mobilize Arizonans to support people, programs and policies supportive of education.”

Immediate goals are to pass Proposition 100 and to determine which legislative and state wide candidates will pledge to support education. eSATS is working to include appropriate use of technology in education. The goal is to separate the lip-service “education candidates” with top priorities in other areas, to the standup candidates for education as top priority – the root from which grows the future of Arizona.

Arizona, once again, has experienced Pearl Harbor. Our battleship has sunk but our new emerging technology and strategy – the aircraft carrier is on the ascendancy. We have a lot to accomplish in this election year of new beginnings.

Stay tuned, get tuned up, and start singing a happy tune.

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00426Economy_Workforce_Education

May 3, 2010

Arizona for the past couple of decades can be modeled by a unique propeller driven airplane. The thrust that propels this aircraft is a counter rotating duo of three bladed propellers. As the head winds increase this thrust remains fairly constant but the aircraft slows.

The three propeller blades are the economy, education, and workforce which are tightly coupled.

The front propeller has the:

economy which depends on a high quality workforce;

which in turn depends on a high performance education system;

which in turn  depends on funding from a robust economy.

The rear propeller has the:

workforce that needs quality jobs delivered by a globally competitive economy;

which in turn , requires a top ranked education system to support enterprise attraction,   creation, growth and retention

which in turn requires a world class  workforce of educators.

Economic research credits technological  innovation for 85% of economic advances over the past 200 years.

Workforces in almost all industries have been trained and educated to adopt and use these emerging technologies with their unique process changes over the past 200 years.

Education industry has adopt  technologies and processes invented prior to 200 years ago,  only in the recent couple of decades has emerging technology initiated its innovation process to transform education.

Arizona is positioned to seize the global lead in transforming education with eLearning adoption. But since the leading player in Arizona education is our legislature, the members must be strongly support the long range plan.

We have major coalitions that are committed to transformation in general.

ABEC is business-education and is focusing on school finance.

Expect More Arizona (rolling out this week) is business-foundation and is focused on election of candidates the support education and workforce.

AZ eLearning Task Force has a 10 year policy mission.

The two missing pieces are the:

eLearning enterprises that lead in the understanding of educational technology and process that deliver effective eLearning across K-12 and higher education, workforce, and military simulation.

The rest of the technology enterprises that leading in the understanding of how to engage and develop technology savvy workforces and how apply innovative technologies in the workplace.

GAZEL is the organization for Arizona’s eLearning enterprises with one of the largest clusters of companies in the nation with revenues over $4 billion.

ATC has over 500 members statewide and has had great track record on educating legislators on technology issues and getting bills passed. Their reputation is outstanding, from the legislature to national level.

There is a significant opportunity for Arizona and both organizations if GAZEL and ATC are able to work mutually support each other and work together as the driving force in a statewide quest to make eLearning the means to simultaneously create a world class economy, workforce and education system.

00419 Educators and Employers Two Different Worlds

May 3, 2010

So goes Arizona’s economy, so goes education, so goes the economy, so goes ed…

In the early 1990’s, Arizona had a thriving high-tech manufacturing sector with quality jobs paying twice the average wage of other sectors. Four of the top ten employers were high-tech, with 45,000 employees. By 2000 Honeywell had merged with Allied Signal Aerospace and Intel moved into the top ten with Motorola and Raytheon, with total of 52,000 employees. Today Walmart, and other retailers dominate the top 10 employers with only Honeywell and Raytheon with 23,000 high tech employees remaining.

Educators have striven over the past two decades to improve reading, math and science education and focus on learning 21st century skills. There has also been an effort to adopt high-tech learning support systems to improve effectiveness of student achievement. The small academic gains based on test scores may be statistically significant, but their effect factor is far off the mark of what is needed. High school graduation rates, and graduate career and college readiness have not begun to close Arizona’s widening demand gap.

From the 1940’s through the 1970’s, our major high-tech manufacturing firms were established as divisions of California, Chicago and New York based corporations. Since then, no divisions or corporations of this type have been successfully attracted or grown from scratch in Arizona. Current non-manufacturing successes such as Avnet (electronic components distributor) and Apollo (online learning) have combined 75,000 employees — but only a fraction are in Arizona.

Arizona’s population has almost doubled in the past couple of decades, but the high-tech quality jobs have not. Lower paying retail and service jobs continue their explosive growth.

What is the cause – effect relationship?

According to the Arizona Technology Council, there continues to be high demand in the high-tech community for high quality engineering, manufacturing and service employees, yet they are hard to find in Arizona even though our college level education system is working hard to meet the need.

The critical factor is that our K-12 system does not connect to this demand. K-12’s time horizon to address this demand is a decade or two while human resources departments need educated workers this year. K-12 boards and leaders live in a non-profit public service world while employers are mostly in the for-profit private sector. School funding comes from an array of property, income and other taxes. Employers pay their taxes with little influence on how schools are funded.

eSATS’ team has striven provide a solution that can transform education to be highly responsive to every student’s needs. Our intent is to home-grow an educated and skilled adult population that itself attracts and grows a huge number of quality jobs within Arizona.

But frankly I believe we are at a time similar to the Lincoln – Douglas debates and Lincoln’s Coopers Union address. Lincoln had so finely clarified the true situation between the South and the North that the nation had finally realized there was no political solution, and their only alternative was war.

Since war is not now an alternative, and the current reform process is not meeting the demand for greatly increase academic performance we must find a better way. There is a single critical linkage between educators and employers. Over the past 200 years, employers have become very effective in adopting emerging technologies of all kinds. If Arizona employers could transfer both the knowledge and the culture of technology driven innovation to our schools it might be just tip the scales toward transformation.

00412 Green Energy and Turqs

May 3, 2010

During the 1960’s, the “green revolution” bible was Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog”. Last year Mr. Brand published his “Whole Earth Discipline” again with a picture of Earth from space on the cover. This time he asks us to “question convenient fables.”

There are many fables from the 1960’s that turned out to not be true or caused significant harm to the environment. Overpopulation driven apocalypses did not happen, but climate change was ignored for decades. New technologies like nuclear energy were thwarted, resulting in massive carbon releases from burning coal. Anti-genetically engineered foods and focus on organic food is fine, as a lifestyle choice, for affluent folks but when this notion is exported to third world counties, malnutrition and starvation surges while the natural environment is harmed.

Mr. Brand has now “rebranded” nuclear power as green energy because of low carbon emissions and foot print.

Yesterday I was having a luncheon discussion with one of Arizona’s legislators who is a strong supporter of green energy. Fourth generation Arizonan, her grandfather’s ranch was run on “green” wind power, wood burning and thick walls to insulate from the heat and cold. I suggested that she consider another green source of renewable energy on the ranch that of muscle power of both animals and people and particularly the mental energy of people.

Our overarching conversation yesterday at the capital was how Arizona could transform itself into a technology driven economy. The common vision of the day focused on energy, biotech and education. By integrating these three together the solution for Arizona’s transformation emerges. By enabling the mental energy of Arizona’s people with technology to learn; the knowledge and skills needed for the greenest of green economic transformation of Arizona will be in hand.

Mr. Brand has renamed green activists as Turgs. This is short for turquoise which is green combined with blue. The blue sky vision of the future is needed to guide green action and mitigate unintended consequences, and to be guided by facts and research, not nostalgia or technophobia. He has also modified his mantra from the 1960’s from:

We are as gods and might as well get good at it.

To

We are as gods and have to get good at it.

Ref. John Tierney article, New York Times.

00405Advocacy Demands Clear Message

May 3, 2010

Education Week, March 31, 2010 had two interesting articles. One was on the NAEP scores progress over the years and the other was titled “What Gifted Educators Can Learn From Sarah Palin.

What has sustained Sarah Palin is her ability to put out a very clear message to her base of voters. Her niche is exact and identifiable. Originally gifted education was defined by Lewis Terman, designer of the Stanford-Binet intelligence test, as an I.Q. 140 or more. This resulted in 1%-3% of the students who were the smartest of the smart who had extraordinary needs from the educational system. Over the past 60 years, Witty, Renzulli, and Gardiner expanded the definition to where giftedness was diluted to the point of absurdity. Advocates have become hard-pressed to define the gifted child. As a result, potential supporters – politicians and administrators – are confused since there is no longer a clear definition. It is easy for the public to ignore the gifted. On the other hand, Sarah Palin has articulated a “unique selling proposition” and she sticks to it.

Gifted education has always been a niche issue and will remain so. eLearning for K-12 education is currently a niche issue serving about 3%-5% of learning. But it has the potential to serve all students. The critical issue for advocates is to define the issue in a very clean and concise way to accelerate adoption. Since we are still in the disruptive part of the innovation cycle, we need to hammer hard on one issue:

The effect of eLearning on academic performance.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows NO PROGRESS. As much as educational statisticians like to play with statistical significance to call out “* Significantly different from 2009” there is no EFFECTIVE difference.

Currently 60% of students who are not classified as performing are classified as either achieving or failing to achieve a basic education. Basic education is below the standard needed to thrive in a 21st century world.

The eLearning advocate’s message is can be illustrated by data from eLearning exemplars. Arizona’s Wilson District is one of the oldest, and there are hundreds more across the U.S. Only six years after adopting a complete 21st Century eLearning system for their K-8 students, Wilson had improved their students’ academic performance from last in the state to above average.

A K-12 eLearning system description is complex. Effective implementation requires focus on dozens of issues and long range planning. Advocates must rise above this maze of details and focus a clear “Sarah Palin” type of message. This message must carry the current true-believers while attracting an audience ten times as great. Our best bet for this phase is to sell the potential attainment. For this we need a host of exemplars like Wilson District. You find them for me, and I will do a one pager that distills their academic performance increases into a clear and visual message.