Posts Tagged ‘eLearning’

00712 From Genteel Pleasures to Hard Headed Mentality

October 8, 2010

David Brooks, a New York Times op-ed writer recently reframed our current situation within the context of the genteel mentality. What made England, Japan, Germany and the United States and may other nations great at various times over the past one hundred years is that technicians started putting scientific knowledge to practical use. But for every nation the saying of “shirt sleeves to shirtsleeves in X generations” set in. The great, great … grandchildren of inventors, mechanics and entrepreneurs change their attitude to a more genteel way of life. It is difficult for a culture to maintain a hardheaded and practical drive after decades of affluence.

In the U.S. many of our newly educated mathematicians, engineers and physicists eschewed the practical field of manufacturing and science. They found a genteel way of life in the financial industry. Industrial manufacturers that used to attract the best minds now see these prospects going into professions of law and other societal helping disciplines. The current mismatch between the need for employees in the manufacturing trades and the surplus of mortgage, real estate, consulting and service professionals accounts for about 3% of the our 9.6% unemployment rate. Closer to home this issue is highlighted in surveys of manufacturers by the Arizona Technology Council.

Over the past twenty years the upper class has aspiring to the aristocratic life style, the middle class has been funding their life styles with debt, and the lower class has been struggling within social breakdown and failing schools.

Frankly this class description of Dickens’ merry-olde-England needs to be broken up once and for all.  K12 education is where it should happen. eLearning transformation will individualized, engage, and deliver success for students. eLearning simulation programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will attract a much larger set of students into the practical professions. A healthy balance and stronger integration of helping, creating, and rearranging professions and trades will prepare our 21st century citizens for the highest pleasure the genteel miss out on – practical success by one’s own hands that helps others.

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00628 Invention Driven Innovation for Education

October 8, 2010

AP’s Kathy Matheson’s article on educational invention is at http://tinyurl.com/322y3cr. It seems that at last a national support system is emerging for eLearning products and services – maybe.

Our U.S. technology based and innovation driven industries enjoy a total of $150 billion in research funds annually. Defense gets half, National Institutes of Health $30 billion and National Aeronautics and Space Administration $20 billion*. Educational technology? Just about zip – maybe $100 million on a good year. Education is just now being recognized as an industry to be driven by technology based innovation.  With research lagging far behind, where are the other vectors of support. The market?

The U.S. formal education industry spends $1 trillion each year, and is willing to invest for access, efficiency and effectiveness. For most entrepreneurs the lack of technology infrastructure, turnover in policies, leaders and curricula, and cumbersome purchasing procedures presents a significant marker barrier. Entrepreneurs have tended to invest their talent and funds in more attractive markets. How about the public sector?

The Department of Education has a $650 million fund to boost education innovation that is focused on entrepreneurship. University of Pennsylvania wants to create an entrepreneur incubator linked with their Department of Education. ASU has grouped their world class ed-tech research groups into SkySong with its enterprise incubator under the leadership of Julia Rosen, Assoc. VP for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. They held the first national education entrepreneur summit this spring. It was modeled after Michael Moe’s similar eLearning industry conferences in the 1990’s.

The expectation is that the education market for technological innovation will become a rival to health care. It’s an admirable goal but we have a long way to go if the health care model of technology is a model.

Another down side for entrepreneurs is that the Venture Capital system destroyed itself ten years ago with its dot-com melt down. During the 1990’s half of VC funded entrepreneurs could expect an initial public offering where they could take their enterprise to the next level. Almost all they can expect now is to be acquired by another company where the entrepreneur leaves with a big pay day. On the brighter side, let’s do a visionary road map:

Factor of 10 and then another factor of 10 increase of federal R&D funding for eLearning research.

A boom in entrepreneurship driven marketing of innovative digital content, curriculum, assessment and delivery systems.

A return of the IPO and a healthy VC dynamic to grow $5 million enterprises to $500 million.

I know that there is a fine line between road maps and wishful thinking. But maybe the Black Swan is about to alight on the eLearning entrepreneurs’ pond.

* “Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2008,” 2007, Congressional Research Service.

00621 K12 is Risky Business

October 8, 2010

ames Bagian – a NASA astronaut, engineer and currently a hospital patient safety expert engaged by the Veteran’s Administration at their National Center for Patient Safety – was recently interviewed by Kathryn Schultz in her series on “being wrong.” Their discussion focused was on health care safety vs. aviation safety.

Aviation is a highly hazardous industry, but it has so much safety designed into the system, there is very little risk of a bad event. The field has a systems perspective, and there is a huge investment in safety. They are not interested in punishing the individual but rather learning what led up to the event and how to change the system to prevent a repeat in the future.

In his current job with the VA, Bagian found the opposite. Health care is all about,”finding out who made the mistake and punishing them for being stupid.” The profession trains them “the right way” and then blames them for mistakes. But a systems analysis and transformation in one area, medication, can reduce the error rate from the current 7% to 10% (!!!) to less than one tenth of one percent.

Admonishments to double-check, be careful, be diligent, and to read the literature do not work. But reporting close calls in a non-blame environment can be highly effective. Developing a culture where breaking the law (rare) remains blameworthy but human errors are expected and capitalized on leads to both a better work environment and a safer work environment. Punishing errors is a terrible policy because it chokes off reporting the very data needed to change the system.

The most similar industry to health care is education. Each is an integration of public and private entities within a large and complex system. They deliver critical human to human service where errors can cause serious problems. Errors in medical systems usually cause immediate harm, where in K-12 education the accumulated harm is only evident after many years.

Many K-12 reform efforts produced a range of admonishments — such as more parent involvement, hire better teachers, more money in the classroom, fewer administrators, and students should work harder — but practical systemic K-12 solutions are rare.

eSATS was founded based on the use of systems analysis applied to education. We discovered a number of serious systemic issues. The isolated classrooms and schools hampered close-call and error reporting, that could support systemic changes to correct for errors. The focus on summative assessments of students, teachers and schools on a weekly to yearly basis were of little value for continuous systemic reduction of risk of student academic performance failure. This results in significant risk to the probability of student academic performance success. The labeling of schools and judging of teachers and principals on summative assessments has been framed as a solution instead of being recognized as part of the problem.

eSATS focuses on real time, data driven formative assessment within the teacher-student relationship as the most important means to assure each student performs, and rises to, their academic potential. The automated data warehouse and decision support systems in our State are being developed for legacy summative data which is a necessary step forward. But only with the application of eLearning systems that include real time student-teacher formative assessment capability, will Arizona have the capacity to remove risk of student failure from of our K-12 education system.

00607 Innovation vs. Disaster

October 8, 2010

I am blessed by people who respond to the eSATS blog with comments and support. One person recommended a list of the leading organizations in Arizona who are focused on improving education. Another thought we would be better served if we focused on “getting inherent” vs. focusing on implementation.

We are in the middle of a four month effort to redesign eSATS to reflect the latest thinking in eLearning for K-12 education. Our Grand Challenge must also determine a path to bring a rapid and effective transformation. I will describe three scenarios below. But first we must be careful to both cause no harm.

Many years ago an article posited that the best way to make a change for the good was to ride in on the chaos generated by a disaster. It is unconscionable to wish for or create a disaster. But the really is that we are living in a time of double crisis: the prolonged recession and a third of our students dropping out of high school, unready for the 21st century world of work and education.

But the real concern should be about potential disasters caused by human innovation and eLearning transformation of education is the biggest invention to hit K-12 since universal education.

Over the centuries America has had many man-made ecological disasters. The most devastation was caused by straight furrow plowing of our prairies 100 years ago. Over a decade, the “dust bowl” caused immense economic lost, displacement of 2 million refugees and human sickness and death. The slaughtering of millions of buffalo and centuries of coast to coast deforestation are also significant disasters. An 18 month oil spill in California in 1910 was twice as great as the current BP spill.

All of these were caused by unintended consequences from technical innovations of the time: axe/saw, mortar board plow, Sharps repeating rifle, and oil drilling rigs. Since there is no history of how large scale systemic transformation of K12 education supported by eLearning – unintended consequences are yet unknown.

Three scenarios face Arizona leadership as they grapple with this opportunity with an eye on avoiding disaster.

One is to call a halt to the innovation and stop any additional online or classroom use of eLearning. This would “pause” the growing eLearning support at about 5% of student learning.
The second is to let the eLearning driven disruptive innovation happen without significant State level leadership or investment. This approach is expected to increase the 5% to approximately 30% in ten years. There would be equity distortions but the average of academic gains might meet (squeaking past) State’s minimum academic goals.
The third is to recognize that eLearning is the means to solve Arizona’s most troubling dilemma and take a systems approach at both the State and district levels. With 95% of student learning supported at the most appropriate level by eLearning, academic goals will be surpassed and significant cost savings secured.

This third scenario would minimize the risk of innovation driven disaster by using a fully integrated data driven decision support system at all levels from classroom to State. It would also address the individual disaster of our 40,000 drop outs and cut short our prolonged recession.

00329 History of Education – 5 Act Play

April 1, 2010

Economic History => Future

A recent Op-Ed by David Brooks* NY Times lamented the lack of a comprehensive history of modern economics, based on the stunning consequences of the recent events. His framework for this history is in five Acts.

Act I. Economic man was a crude representation of individual human nature who was totally rational and only interested in maximizing his personal benefit. During my late 1970’s MBA I took several economic courses, ran econometric models, and was always one variable away from solutions that matched the data. We actually used humans with quantified util’s as part of the utility functions and had grand arguments.

Act II. During the past several decades, Herbert Simon addressed not-perfectly rational people, and Gary Becker saw behaviors that were not just self interest, like having children. Others saw that people have biases, and many make non-objective decisions.

Act III. Is a discontinuity with the economic crisis of 2008-2009. The incredibly sophisticated econometric/financial models built over the decades failed to predict the wiping out of $50 trillion in global wealth and the huge human suffering that followed.

Act IV. is starting with soul searching that is far from a consensus on why the economic intellectual agenda-setters failed to see the oncoming train wreck. In the physical sciences, real problems are solved and stay solved. In economics, thinkers cycle in and out of fashion. Economists are now talking about the individual, love, virtue, social relationships and imagination!

Act V. David Brooks predicts that the current field of rational economics will be blown-up. Human beings cannot be addressed with universal laws like physics. It will become a subsection of history and moral philosophy focusing on individuals within contexts. The lessons learned will be one by one, like art, not science.

Education History => Future

Any lesson’s to learn for educational transformation from the economics’ meltdown? Probably not since Brook’s history is over a few years, and education’s a few century. But let’s walk along the path of economics anyway and lay in education at their milestones.

Act I. Early 1700’s: Prussians founded the highly structured lecture, recitation, seat-work system for the select group of aristocratic youth.

Act II. Late 1800’s: This model one-size-fits-all factory like system was applied to all children through universal education.

Act III. Middle of the 2000th century the system expanded to meet expectations that women, minorities and special needs children should also graduate. There was a significant increase in funding for all education with the major gains in special education. The education crisis emerged over 2 decades not the 2 years for the economic crisis.  Academic performance gains stagnated in the mid 1970’s. In 1980’s the system was shocked to learn that the Iron Curtain countries were out-performing American schools by a significant margin. The final blow came from a Bolivian immigrant Jaime Escalante who transformed L.A.’s tough Garfield High School. He blew away the myth that inner-city kids can not perform at the highest levels (movie: Stand and Deliver). He graduated more advanced placement Calculus students than all but four other U.S. high schools.

Act IV. The initial reactions were reforms and restructuring that moved the deck chairs but did not focus on hard issues. Innovations such as charter schools, choice, career ladders, No Child Left Behind, etc. were tried by many states but success was fleeting. Summative testing to standards is becoming a piece of the solution. But as any industrial quality expert knows the only way to have quality products out the door is heavy investment in design, training and equipment investment for all aspects of the cycle. After three decades of action academic performance and graduation rates remain flat. Society’s demands for job and college ready students, 21st century critical thinking and a globally competitive economy have soared. Fortunately ideas with broad and significant success factors such as eLearning, individualized instruction, digital content, teacher-student centered focus, mastery not seat time funding, online learning, and personal learning plans have started to emerge.

Act V. The 21st century will not see a blow-up of K-12 education like David Brooks’ forecast for the economics field. I believe the coming transformation from the factory model of the Prussians to massively-individualized education is definitely in the cards. This transformation will be shaped by the decades-old Benjamin Bloom studies of the tutor-student relationship and the individualization methods for gifted and other special education students from the 1970’s. Serving moral, social and emotional yearnings and ambitions of individual students will be the driving factor bringing renewed growth of both academic achievement and graduation rates.

The most import lesson from the economic tragedy is that the focus of education must not be on the “school” but rather on the multifaceted context of the student. Of course, this is not news to any successful teacher. Like Jaime Escalante they know how to ward off the Prussian structure to serve the needs of their individual students.

*: David Brooks, Op-Ed  The Return of History New York Times, March 25, 2009

00322 DCI Legislation And National Ed TechPlan

March 22, 2010

There were a number of meetings last week to craft changes to HB2720, the Digital Curriculum Institute bill. The intent of these changes is to make this legislation more responsive to the needs of the entities who have to implement this bill, as well as the educators and providers whom it is intended to support. One recommended change is the name to Digital Content Office which would be housed in the Arizona Department of Education. Educators’ use of the term content is better aligned to the intent of the bill than the term curriculum. An office is a more flexible organizational structure for initiation of the effort than a formal institute.

There are other proposed changes that are being written into an amendment. I will copy you on this amendment when it is expected to be published within a week’s time. There are four weeks left to hear bills in the Senate. HB2720 is expected to be heard next week in Senate Education committee, March 31st 1:30 p.m.

A critical aspect of HB2720 is that its initial funding must come from other than Arizona government sources. A major potential source of support is the federal government. But for this support to be available the DCI (DCO?) should be aligned to the new National Educational Technology Plan (NETP). Although this type of institute is not specified in the plan, there are many aspects of the plan that would be strongly supported by a functioning DCI.

I combed through the 23 Goals and Recommendations and Grand Challenges in the NETP.

NETP Executive Summary 14pp: http://tinyurl.com/yeljk8a

I believe that these goals, recommendations and challenges guide the design, or need the support, of a Digital Content Center type of operation. I have extracted the following aspects:

“…Standards and learning objectives for all content areas…;”

“…Learning resources that use technology…;”

“…Capacity of educators and educational institutions to use technology to improve assessment materials and processes…;”

“…Provide access to the most effective teaching and learning resources, especially where they are not other wise available, and to provide more options for all learners at all levels.

“Leverage open education resources to promote innovation and creative opportunities for all learners… “

“…Development and use of interoperability standards of content…improve decision making at all levels.”

Grand challenges:

…Integrated system … access to learning experiences…;

…Integrated system for assessment…;

…An integrated approach for capturing, aggregating, mining and sharing content…data,…;

Bods well for national support of the DCO.

00315 Innovation: Fraught With Peril and Opportunity

March 15, 2010

Successful innovation has a sequence of phases:

1. Invention, early adoption, rapid acceptance by one market;

2. Expansion into multiple markets;

3. Legacy system transformation driven by outside disruptive innovations based on technology, societal and economic changes;

4. Dying or being absorbed into an emerging innovation.

Innovation is a highly unpredictable process. It is rife with unintended consequences and

1. Our system of education was invented by the Prussians in the early 1700’s to educate sons of the elite. It reached the U.S. market by the late 1880’s with the compulsory education movement.

2. The market served expanded from boys to boys and girls during the first half of the 1900’s and to minority populations and special education students in the last half of the 1900’s. The dominant mode of innovation has been market extensions through government mandates and significant increases in government funding. The result has been huge increases in student learning time, graduation rates and economic and societal benefits.

3. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s the legacy system invented by the Prussians had expanded to all available markets. But societal needs demanded a change to include quality with quantity. The emerging social need was for K-12 to educate college and career ready students for the 21st century. The demand curve had crossed over the supply curve and the scramble was on. Change was in the air.

Hope for rapid success has faded and we seem stuck in phase 3. Inside the system, grade inflation worked for awhile, but was then discredited. Outside advocacy communities came on strong with whole language, charter schools, school choice, essential skills, standards, school improvements, test score data to guide decision making and a host of others. Many are based on market-competitiveness models.

A recent book by an intellectual leader in this movement, Diane Ravitch is: “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How testing and Choice are Undermining Education.” Dr. Ravitch wants to return to the traditional school structure. Why she is doing an about face on her 20 years of change efforts is explored in an Education Week  article, March 10, 2010 www.edweek.org .

Chester E. Finn Jr. of the Thomas Fordham Institute, a long time associate of Diane Ravitch, agrees with her depressing analysis of the data. But he espouses renewed efforts to destroy the old structure and replace it with the new.

With humility to their much greater depth of wisdom and knowledge, I believe both are wrong. Reverting to innovation Phase 2 or jumping over Phase 3 to Phase 4 makes little sense.

We have 20 years of data which show that a dozen piecemeal approaches do not work. Even added together, there has been scant increase in academic performance of K-12 education as a whole. There is a big difference between statistically significant improvement and significant improvement in effect factor.

We must reach the effect factor goal of at least one sigma (or letter grade) improvement across the board for all 60 million students for all courses and grade levels. We must increase the graduation rate to an effective 95% whether through formal or informal means of education. Graduating students must be prepared and eager to prosper in a world that requires life-span learning.

The 300 year old innovation of grouping teachers and students within the traditional organizational structure needs to make the transformation with a long strategic system design approach. Outside advocates have a huge role to play to support the transformative changes in school finance, human resources, technology based systems, curriculum, data and decision making. But the real innovation adopters within Phase 3 are our leaders and teachers currently within the education system. Together we can pull it off.

00308 National Educational Technolgy Plan

March 8, 2010

The 2010 National Educational Technology Plan from the U.S. Department of Education has just been released in draft form. A blue ribbon higher education committee had been working since last spring to develop the plan. They took input at the 2009 NECC meetings and solicited input from the education community. The Obama administration has set the goal of raising college completion rates to 60 percent by 2020. One of the means is to have a computing device in the hands of every K-12 student. The committee addressed this goal by focusing on five strategic areas: classroom learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity.

NETP Executive Summary 14pp: http://tinyurl.com/yeljk8a

NETP pdf 114pp: http://tinyurl.com/yzcvwr4

Note: I called US Dept. of Ed Publications, and this plan has not yet been published in printed form for public access.

Education Week article 1pp: http://tinyurl.com/ylgljkr

SRI International’s site for NETP including community comments: https://edtechfuture.org

My comments from last fall are in their “Statements” section, about half way down the slider’s bar, starting with:

Innovation funding

and ending 20 comments later with:

14. eLearning research community of practice portal.

Last fall I wrote a seven page blog on the NETP planning process. I expressed concerns about the lack grand challenges and forward looking innovation. But my main concern was on the process itself.

After reading through the 90 text pages of this draft plan, most of my foundational concerns are covered. Much more important this work has reached a depth of detail and intellectual focus not often seen in this type of work. Many plans are at 40,000 feet. They are chuck full of situational assessments, imperatives and wishful but unrealistic thinking. This draft plan lays a solid and comprehensive foundation for the immense effort that faces all of us. Gone are is the word reform. In its place is the word that applies to our turning point – transformation.

I recommend that each of you take two to three hours out of you busy schedule for a bit of life-span learning.  Read and ponder the paragraphs this National Educational Technology Plan. Think about the role you can play in pulling it off.

I like the fact that this is a draft plan. Effective plans for implementation must be flexible and continuously evolving. So let’s keep it in draft form with continuous additions and updates as we get busy in the field, making it happen.

00301 Digital Curriculum Institute

March 1, 2010

The heart of any education system is curriculum. Curriculum must contain and deliver what is to be learned, how it is to be learned, and assessments of the learning. Curriculum selection frames student capabilities at course entry and exit. It will define required skills, training and education of the teacher. Curriculum is specific to one or more settings – classroom, computer lab, shop, field, community, or home. Curriculum has direct costs for acquisition and installation. It also has a total cost of ownership that includes facilities, equipment and labor. The TCO is expected to include cost savings as the digital curriculum accelerates student learning.

There is rich knowledge of the books and supplementary materials supporting our legacy system of education. The pioneering work with digital curriculum over the past twenty-five years has penetrated to about 5% of student learning time-on-task. All 70,000 Arizona school leaders and teachers are familiar with digital curriculum, but few have a knowledge level equal to legacy curriculum. The question of how adequately to educate and train educators to acquire and use digital curriculum was raised in the early 1990’s. With many thousands of digital curriculum courses and supplementary materials scattered over 150 K-12 courses, the answer is challenging. The rapid evolution of the Internet, simulation graphics, voice and other technologies also complicates the question.

In the 2000’s, the results of one of Governor Hull’s planning teams defined the need to address digital curriculum. Then a Governor Napolitano task force came up with the concept of a unique Digital Curriculum Institute (DCI) to solve this dilemma. In 2004 eSATS worked developed the DCI design within the framework of their ten year system redesign to transform K-12 education from legacy to eLearning education. The DCI became part of the intellectual infrastructure required for the design to work. The other part is a system to educate and train eLearning savvy teachers. The DCI design is matured into alignment with the NAU teacher education system, ASU Advanced Learning Technology Institute and college of education, UofA Agricultural Extension Service, and Arizona Department of Education, host for the Arizona eLearning Task Force. The ASU-ADE internet portal based Integrated Data to Enhance Arizona Learning (IDEAL) is expected to play a role.

This institute will have a team of digital curriculum experts who will initially explore the offerings of entities that include K-12 digital curriculum information: Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC), Utah’s Recommended Instructional Material Searchable Database, Software and Information Association, Curriki, JES & CO, etc. A search and assessment protocol will be developed and tested. The first sustained operation will be to access provider offerings of promising and accessible digital curriculum. Providers include vendors, free ware developers, university and research institutes and schools. The delivery mode of their offerings will range from online to supplementary CD.

When the knowledge database is operational, the DCI will use an internet portal to provide decision support service for all Arizona schools who request. But time is short; we cannot wait years for this web-portal to catch on. Therefore an extension service – similar to the 100+ year old agricultural extension service administered by the UofA Ag department – will be developed and sent to the field. These transformation experts will be backed by the latest digital curriculum knowledge. Their task will be to develop decision and implementation support service relationships with Arizona’s 238 public school districts and 2000 schools of all types.

Led by the centralized font of wisdom and the change agents in the field, Arizona will have the intellectual infrastructure in place. As the financial woes of the State subside, Arizona K12 education will then be able to make rapid progress on its transformation from 5% to 10% to 20% to 50% eLearning supported education.

00222 Numbers and Digital Curricullum

February 22, 2010

Four numbers define the current magnitude of Arizona K12 Education.

240      2000        60,000       1.2 million.

The focus of our K12 transformation is Arizona’s 60,000 teachers and 1.2 million students. Their work plays out in 2000 schools supported by the resources and decisions of 240 school district and charter school leaders.

Our future is based on how we spend $110 billion, the total cost of K12 education over the next ten years. This means we do have options, even though we remain at 50th position for spending per student.

The 21st Century is happening, and it is critical that we transformation our existing legacy means and methods to meet its challenges. The only path at assures both efficiency and effectiveness is eLearning.

eLearning focuses on the interrelationship of the student and the teacher within the curriculum. eLearning requires transformation to digital curriculum. It is the gating factor which then defines the needed teacher professional development, education and training along with the broadband and computing systems.

Over the past decades thousands of digital curriculum products and services have emerged and fallen by the wayside. Many have been continuously improve to serve the teacher and student. There is a wide range of sources, both internally developed in the virtual, charter and traditional schools and externally developed and supported by vendors, states and university researchers. In 2010 approximately 5% of K12 student learning is being supported by digital curriculum within an eLearning environment.

Ignoring all the optimistic forecasts of the past, the 5% is currently forecast to grow to 50% within the next nine years. One of the challenges is for leaders in districts, schools and classrooms to make effective transformational decisions on the adoption of digital curriculum. There are 150 different K12 courses, many state standards, hundreds of digital curriculum offerings for some courses and few if any for others. There is currently a lack of knowledge on what digital curriculum is accessible, effective and efficient. Consider the situation as the emerging digital curriculum market grows by a factor of ten!

The Digital Curriculum Institute (DCI) was designed over the past 5 years to address this challenge for all Arizona schools including homeschoolers. The DCI mission is to create data, information and knowledge that are not currently available and provide decision support to K12 school leadership. The goal is to accelerate successful adoption of digital curriculum through a support service that responds to requests from school decision makers.

By launching the this year the DCI will be ready when the financial contraction eases and schools can once again invest in innovation. The long range strategy of the DCI is to help grow eLearning expertise within the districts to give our state and economy an advantage in our race for global competitiveness.