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Going global and purposive

kn-power
Knowledge powers the 21st century

Dan Wallace (@ideafood) forwarded a link to this short essay by TED curator, Ted Anderson. Networking technologies are transforming the potential of teachers:

There are many scary things about today’s world. But one that is truly thrilling is that the means of spreading both knowledge and inspiration have never been greater. Five years ago, an amazing teacher or professor with the ability to truly catalyze the lives of his or her students could realistically hope to impact maybe 100 people each year. Today that same teacher can have their words spread on video to millions of eager students. There are already numerous examples of powerful talks that have spread virally to massive Internet audiences.

Indeed, the Chinese are figuring this out, and are packaging recordings of instruction by their top teachers in mobile devices. Moreover, free tools like Skype, YouTube and Twitter that operate on inexpensive hardware provide new opportunities not only for connecting teachers with a broader audience of students, but also for connecting students to the world. Likewise, both teachers and students can learn from …and co-create new knowledge with… their peers, globally.

In the comments, Michael Rossney makes another point:

When potential students are selecting a traditional school, or course or teacher the deciding factors are likely to be: Proximity, Cost, Availability of time/course places. These just aren’t such an issue online.

This concept is very real for me: Last week I attended an information evening from a prominent college here in Dublin on a business MBA. I wanted not just to learn strategies but to rub shoulders with result focused businesspeople, social entrepreneurs etc. As I left I couldn’t help thinking that I could get more value studying certain TED speakers or similar if I could just harness that information and use it.

So, there we go. The question isn’t access to technologies, but how we make the most of the technologies and knowledge resources available. Rather than blindly advocating for technological adoption, is it now time to focus on the purposive use of technologies for human capital development?

2008 in review: What happened to this year's predictions?

[Photo by darkmatter]

At the beginning of this year, I released five predictions for global education in 2008. How did I do?

It’s a mixed bag, ranging from being completely off to spot on… with some surprises, too!

Prediction #1:

Largely driven by the moderate success of OLPC, Linux will emerge as the platform of choice for K-12 technology leaders. The OLPC will demonstrate that not only is Linux different, but it can also be used to do new and different things. Instead of using new technologies to teach the same old curricula, new technologies will be used to teach new things.

What really happened: Linux didn’t take off, but the OLPC spurned an entire ecosystem of cheap, portable computing. We’ve seen this in the form of exploding sales netbooks by Acer, Asus and other small-form, low-powered, low-cost producers –as well as products intended to compete with OLPC, including a $98 laptop from China.

Prediction #2:

Web 2.0 will continue to democratize the globalization of higher education as more students and professors embrace open communications platforms. This means university administrations will have a harder time “owning” their global agendas.

What really happened: Web 2.0 technologies are continuing to democratize the globalization of higher education; but there’s little evidence to suggest that administrators are making the most of what is happening, let alone the question of “ownership.” Of course, there’s also the problem that nobody really knows what “Web 2.0” really is, except as “a piece of jargon.” Some schools, however, have began to experiment with integrating their services with YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, etc., providing some hope that they will be able to leverage the power of Web communities.

Prediction #3:

Because of the influences of #1 and #2, education-oriented open source development will boom.

What really happened: The open source development boom hasn’t happened, but it also does not seem to be lessening. Moodle continues to develop as a popular course instruction platform, and other institutions have copied MIT’s OpenCourseWare program –but, these innovations all predate 2008. With a few exceptions (like OLPC), the open source/open access movement has made little new headway in 2008. Software in higher education, however, remains largely centered on proprietary formats.

Prediction #4:

Chinese orientations toward the rest of the planet will change during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The Chinese widely view that the award to host the Olympics is a sign that their country is progressing positively –and of international acceptance. During the Olympics, however, much of the international attention will focus on revisiting the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the government’s treatment of political prisoners, the annexation of Tibet, the mainland’s relations with Taiwan, catastrophic ecological destruction throughout China, and many more sensitive topics. Unless if the Chinese can distract the world with Olympian splendor, they will have to endure international condemnation. What will this do to the millions of Chinese school kids who were drafted into generating national spirit under the false assumption that the world thinks China is doing a great job? Will China reorient its education system away from the West?

What really happened: As expected, China had a hard time navigating the additional attention of human rights and ecological issues. What was not expected, however, is that China would muscle such a huge effort to manage its public relations image. This was most evident in the spectacle of the opening ceremonies, but also with the scandals that plagued the government and Olympic organizers as they tried to manage China’s image.

What does this mean for Chinese education? The Chinese government managed media relations well; and, as students at Anqing Teachers College told me in October, “the successful implementation of the Beijing games is evidence that China is prepared to lead the world.” China is not reorienting its education system away from the West. Rather, it intends to reorient the West toward China!

Prediction #5:

India’s the place to be. As more U.S. companies quietly continue to offshore their creative work to India, India’s knowledge economy will boom. The world will take notice of this in 2008.

What really happened: The jury’s still out. We’ll have to wait and see. In a 2005 report, the World Bank noted that India is in the bottom third of the global knowledge economy, and hasn’t improved much in the previous ten years. Has it changed? We’ll watch this one closely in 2009!

Stay tuned for five new predictions for 2009!

Education Futures censored in China

I’m back from China (jet lagged and blurry-eyed)!

One of the most interesting aspects of my visit to Anqing Teachers College for an international conference on Leapfrog Education is that the Leapfrog Institutes and Education Futures websites were non-accessible from within China, but were available to the rest of the world. The Golden Shield Project, more commonly referred to as the Great Firewall of China, is a censorship (and surveillance) system operated by the Chinese central government, designed to prevent Chinese citizens from reviewing or discussing anything that the government views as subversive or criminal. Despite the government’s investment in the system, an ecosystem of easily accessible technologies provide workarounds to Chinese censorship on the Internet. (See Wikipedia on the topic for more details.)

An interesting observation is that the Great Firewall of China is not uniformly oppressive. At the beginning of my stay, I was able to access Education Futures from the Holiday Inn-Downtown Shanghai, but was not able to access it anywhere in Anqing. Oddly, when I returned to the Holiday Inn several days later, the site was blocked at that location as well. (The Atlantic suggests that Beijing may have granted hotels greater Internet liberties due to an increased presence of foreigners during the Olympic Games.) A review of site traffic logs suggests that EF was censored sometime in June, 2008:

Education Futures visits from China (via Google Analytics)

Pre-Censure: January 1, 2008 – June 30, 2008

Post-Censure: July 1, 2008 – October 20, 2008

I’m not sure what content posted at EF would earn the blog a spot among sites censored in China, but curious readers can review China-related posts here.

My question: is being censored in China a great honor … or is it something to be concerned about?

Forget the $100 laptop … China brings the $98 laptop!

From the Tech Video Blog:

HiVision makes the worlds cheapest Linux laptop at $98 using a new cheaper MIPS based processor (perhaps the Longsoon or the Ingenic), WiFi, 1GB flash storage, it runs Linux, has 3 USB ports, Ethernet, SDHC card reader, audio in and out, voice-chat, skype, multi-tabbed Firefox browser support and Abiword for word processing. Automatic and secure online software updates. Their current model is running a smooth and pretty snappy Linux user interface. In this video, I got to borrow a review sample of the laptop overnight, and I try to show you all the browser and other software interfaces in this extended video review of this cheap MIPS based laptop. Embedded is the way that I hope that most cheap laptops are going to be based on in the near future, Google will hopefully make a great Chrome browser for this kind of Laptop and hopefully that OLPC soon will announce that they will work to improve Embedded Linux based laptops in the upcoming XO-1.5 and XO-2 designs.

More in their video:

Futures Research Quarterly publishes special Leapfrog issue

The World Futures Society has published a special issue of Futures Research Quarterly, focused on the Leapfrog Principle.  These papers will serve as the knowledge base for the upcoming Leapfrog conference in Anqing, China this October.  Online copies should be available through EBSCOhost in the near future (check with your library for access).  Contents for the Spring 2008 (vol. 24, nr. 1) issue:

  • The role of Leapfrogging in the future of youth work and workforce preparation by George Kubik
  • Leapfrog principles and practices: Core components of Education 3.0 and 4.0 by Arthur M. Harkins
  • The Leapfrog Principle and paradigm shifts in education by Xian-rong Wang
  • The significance of Leapfrog education development in China by Changde Cao
  • Four scenarios of Leapfrog for teacher training curriculum in China by Hongzhuan Song
  • Utilizing digital technology to achieve leapfrog learning by Jun ma
  • Technological applications of Leapfrog by John Moravec
  • Leapfrog Education: An alternative present and future for Chinese tertiary education by Yi Cao

International Leapfrog conference coming this fall

During October 12-14 of this year Anqing Teachers College will sponsor a conference on Leapfrog-inspired changes in the near futures of Chinese and U.S. education. The University of Minnesota, Anqing Teachers College, and the World Future Society are collaborators in this exciting development.

The official title of the conference is Interdisciplinary Education in Teacher Training Programs via Leapfrog Principles. More information about the conference will be released in the near future.

Eight draft papers for the ATC conference are linked here. Please make any comments that you feel will improve the papers. In the near future, the papers will be edited by Dr. Tim Mack, President of the World Future Society, for a special issue of the journal Futures Research Quarterly.

Chinese higher education explodes, impact unknown

From a recent article from Inside Higher Ed:

For all the hyperbole, facts about what’s actually happening on the ground in China can be hard to come by. A new study by economists at universities in Canada, New Zealand and China aims to document what its title calls “the higher educational transformation of China and its global implications,” collecting in one place statistics and other information about enrollments, demographic changes, numbers of colleges and faculty publishing, among other categories.

From the working paper‘s abstract:

The number of undergraduate and graduate students in China has been grown at approximately 30% per year since 1999, and the number of graduates at all levels of higher education in China has approximately quadrupled in the last 6 years. The size of entering classes of new students and total student enrollments have risen even faster, and have approximately quintupled. Prior to 1999 increases in these areas were much smaller. Much of the increased spending is focused on elite universities, and new academic contracts differ sharply from earlier ones with no tenure and annual publication quotas often used. All of these changes have already had large impacts on China’s higher educational system and are beginning to be felt by the wider global educational structure. We suggest that even more major impacts will follow in the years to come and there are implications for global trade both directly in ideas, and in idea derived products. (emphasis added)

Given the explosive growth of Chinese higher education –and potential effects on social, cultural, and economic transformations, it is not surprising that the impact has not been probed. Change may be occurring far faster than researchers and policy directors can measure.

(Thanks to Tom Abeles for forwarding the source article.)

China hearts m-learning

You don’t need to understand Mandarin to know what’s going on in these commercials. The videos seem to stream slowly from these Chinese YouTube equivalents, so you may want to brew a pot of coffee as they load. Believe me, it’s worth the wait.

First, a collection of Ozing (好记星) commercials:

Then, the infomercial:

The Chinese are embracing mobile learning (m-learning) devices, and the manufacturer’s use of Dashan (AKA Mark Rowswell) as a pitchman conveys the impression that the West is using devices like this already. On the contrary –we confiscate these things at the school door! Is it too late for the West?

(Make sure to read my previous post on the Ozing V99.)

Slides from this morning's MACTA presentation

From this morning’s MACTA keynote address: Co-constructing Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century

Career and Technical Education is poised at the inflection point of a technological and social change process identified as the “J” Curve. Just like the letter J, the “J” Curve describes a sharp upward turn in the exponentially accelerating rate of change. The effects of the “J” Curve will be felt -indeed, are already being felt- by every institution, company, government, and school in all societies. This presentation centers on the leadership that can be exerted by Career and Technical Education in the context of the “J” Curve’s increasing impacts.

To view the slides in a larger format, click here.