Diplomas for students from high schools and colleges have very different value. On the other hand online certification, like Adobe tests for professional proficiency, has equal value among all who are certified.
The value to the student who earns the first two of these diplomas is woefully different. All the Adobe certificates are equal in value:
- Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Virginia was named by Newsweek as the No. 1 best public high school in the USA for 2010.
- Columbus High School in Bronx, New York is on the New York City Board of Education’s schedule to be closed because of a “long history of sustained academic failure.”
- Adobe Certification for a professional proficiency is a student’s proof of having qualified in a test online given equally to all comers from any place and any background.
Think about it: If high school diplomas were awarded after online testing that is open to all, a Columbus High School student in the Bronx would have a chance to prove her intellectual and knowledge equality to the Jefferson High School students in Alexandria. There is an echo of equality in the notion of standardized tests given at schools — but this echo does not affect the value of a diploma handed to a Columbus High School graduate.
The way public schools award diplomas based upon their own students instead of equal knowledge testing is not fair. It perpetuates an underclass.
What smartphones, tablets, netbooks now have in common is putting the open internet in your hand. For all the varieties of configs and features, it is the web browser that equalizes learning. This world-connecting, world-changing cognitive denominator is in the process of doing two fabulous things:
- Bringing everything know by humankind into the hands of each member of the young global generation,
- Bringing that knowledge to each of them equally — quite literally from the same virtual page.
Prompted by all the iPad chatter this week, Michael Malone has posted an interesting article today called “Tablet Dreams” in which he traces the techie decades old dream of creating hand held tablets. Malone muses as to why the dream has persisted:
Perhaps it’s because they harken back to the natural human tendency to write and draw on the nearest flat wall or stone or scrap of wood. Or maybe it’s a kind of cultural memory from the days of cuneiform writing on slabs of drying mud, or marking with chalk on a piece of slate in a one room schoolhouse. Whatever the reason, the dream of a smart, interactive tablet is almost as old as electronics itself.
As these techie dreamers diddled with digital chalk and chisels, something else — something wonderful — happened. The serendipity is something Stuart Kauffman might call an “adjacent possibility”: the array of dream tablets has in common that you can touch them to display, lo, nothing less than the accumulated knowledge of our species. That, folks, is quantum leaps beyond marking with your finger in a wet tablet of mud, or for that matter, with chalk on the boards in schools.