10:57 AM

Our Local Schools Should Be Showcases Not Basket Cases - GOOG Ups Its Schools Focus

The promise of distance learning through the Internet has yet to be realized and I'm puzzled why this is the case since it should be possible to collaborate on creating a great online curriculum. Once it is created it can be easily accessed by anyone.

Why don't we use the social networking and collaborative tools we already have to put together an open-sourced curriculum consisting of text, images, videos, lectures, online volunteers acting as tutors, etc. We have all the technology we need to do all of this today.

I've always been amazed that San Francisco/Silicon Valley region public schools are so bad. We are inventing the future here, yet we can't use our ingenuity, our technologies to improve our local schools? Our public schools should be showcases, not basket cases, we should be ashamed to allow this to happen.

So it's good to see Google becoming more interested in schools because there is a lot it could do to help, especially in terms of projects like its Google Books. Maybe it could help to provide text books. It's incredible how expensive textbooks are.

For the past two days Google has hosted a conference on its campus: Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age. The goal was to "create and act upon a breakthrough strategy for scaling up effective models of teaching and learning for children." It's not clear what breakthrough strategy has emerged but at least it's a start,

Dan Fost writing at Los Angeles Times has a report on the conference:

[Sergey Brin] advocated putting all textbooks on computers, to make for easier access, and for putting high school students to work -- writing Wikipedia articles, and teaching technology to senior citizens and middle school students. In teaching, they will learn.

...he did see a downside.

"When I was growing up, I always knew I'd be in the top of my class in math, and that gave me a lot of self-confidence," he said. But now that students can see beyond their own school or hometown, they see that "there are always going to be a million people better than you at times, or someone will always be far better than you. I feel there's an existential angst among young people. I didn't have that. They see enormous mountains, where I only saw one little hill to climb."