Wednesday, April 2, 2008

tt4t_031 The Changing World of Education

It’s Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 and welcome to episode 31 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Keeping up in the world of Web 2.0 is in reality an impossible task as the rapid pace of innovations far outpace our abilities to absorb them. For those priding themselves with keeping up with the times this is unfortunately a sobering reality. Robert Cringely over at the PBS website recently had an interesting podcast devoted to the changing world we now live in and how society is adapting to Moore’s Law, with or without our schools. In his podcast he explores the effects of Moore’s Law on our society and institutions. Moore’s Law states that the processing power of computers doubles every 18 to 24 months but our society and institutions adapt at a much slower pace. He suggests that it takes 30 years, an entire generation, to absorb technological advancements before they become common place in our existing institutions.

Download MP3

I have provided a link in the show notes to his podcast titled War of the Worlds: The Human Side of Moore’s Law in which he poses an ISO 9000 certification system for students. It is worth a listen if you get a chance and it is only ten minutes long.

War of the Worlds Podcast by Robert Cringely
Click on the sound icon under the title to listen to the podcast or you can read the article.

Cringely argues that we now have the technology that will change the face of our present school system structure. How long it will take is another matter. An ISO certification system has the potential to take schools out of the equation for certifying student knowledge. If a system similar to the ISO 9000 certification used by manufacturing can be replicated for certifying student knowledge then a system would exist regardless of the method of education to qualify student knowledge. Home schoolers, charter schools, private schools, and public schools would have a way to qualify student performance regardless of method of education.

One of the effects of ISO 9000 certification for the United States has been a mass exodus of US manufacturing jobs to overseas factories. Overseas factories have become equal or superior to US based manufacturing as proven by stringent ISO certification. What would happen to US schools if a similar system were developed? Would we then have a fair way to compare student performance across the world? Where would students receive instruction from? New technologies make it possible to receive instruction from anywhere in the world, will it be the norm in 30 years for students to receive instruction from teachers based outside their local community? These are interesting questions and I would love to hear your comments, leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog or send and email to so we can share your comments with others.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My Technology Pick of the Week this week is for teachers and students that have the need for text material to be read out-loud. Many times we have students with Individual Education Plans or special needs that require the reading of material either for testing purposes or for those that need a little extra help with reading. If the material is in digital form there are programs available that are able to convert text-to-speech. Read Please 2003 is a FREE program that allows you to copy and paste text into the program and the program will “read” the text back to you in a synthesized computer voice. You have a choice of two male and two female voices to select from. This can save you valuable time as students can use this program for their text-to-speech needs and thus free up the teacher or aide for other duties. It can also help students with tracking problems while reading because as the program reads the text the word being read is highlighted allowing the reader to follow along one word at a time. A link is provided in the show notes. If you download this program be sure to select the free version and you can uncheck the box for the trial version of the paid product.

Read Please 2003

That wraps it up for episode 31 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode along with archived versions are available on the web at that’s techtalk the number 4

If you have questions or comments about using technology in the classroom of have some news you would like to share please send me an email to or you can leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.

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