“A third of all American adults own a smartphone and for many minority and low income users, those mobile devices have replaced computers for Internet access.” So beings an article in today’s Washington Post. As usual, education is overlooked in the discussion — yet from the facts in the article the implications for engaging students in knowledge rattle the foundation of education as we know it. And that is a beautiful thing.
Those groups who are most under-served by schools today are carrying the world’s knowledge in their pocket — accessible there through their smartphone’s web browser. Minority and low income kids have not been lavished at home with cool PCs (in the olden days of the 1990s) and laptops (more recently). Their internet access has too often been in dysfunctional school computer labs where their online time has been limited or nonexistent — and controlled by curriculum and filters.
The Washington Post article explains:
Of those who solely rely on smartphones to surf the Web, most are minorities, younger than 30 and have low incomes. They’ve found mobile devices as a suitable replacement for buying expensive computers and paying DSL or cable modem bills every month. . . . Cable and DSL remain faster, but that difference may not be big enough to justify their high costs for some consumers.
The implications here are global, and the trends are breathtaking serendipity. Here are the big steps as they have happened:
The internet began.
Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web (the web) in which anything can be connected to anything.
Experts have been pouring everything known into the web for nearly 20 years.
Cellphones have morphed into smartphones.
Smartphones have web browsers — so everything known can be looked at by their owners.
AND NOW –
The smartphones are proving the cheaper, and thus preferred web access.
Minority, low income, and young users are carrying smartphones.
And, best of all, knowledge delivered through those smartphones is post racial!
“Minority Students Get the Short End of the Democrat Stick” writes Kerri Toloczko today on the BigGovernment blog. As education moves on to the center stage of politics, one of the key questions is how to make the opportunity to learn equal for all children.
In the United States there are decades-old inequalities that affect mostly African-American and Hispanic students. In just about every country’s and culture’s education there are groups to whom the short stick of education is the norm. Eradicating these habits is not easy, and at best will take time. The minorities now school age are very unlikely to get their hands on a long stick of learning.
YET THEY CAN DO JUST THAT!!
With a mobile device in a student’s hands, browsing the open Web connects to exactly the same knowledge to learn for every student. The online knowledge each student connects to is identical. The device and those who created the knowledge have no idea who is connected to the subject matter, so they cannot have prejudices against the student.
The FamousTrials website, for example, does not know if someone studying The Dakota Conflict Trials of 1862 is Korean, Nigerian, American, Black, White, Hispanic, or Sioux.
The education provided by state governments — with increasing federal control — is producing shocking inequalities that are obvious and clear in these unemployment facts:
Lurita Doan provides these facts about minority unemployment at BigGovernment.com: While the unemployment for white Americans averaged 9.3%, African Americans averaged 16.6%, just a little less than double the rate of white unemployment. Hispanic Americans reported 13.3% unemployment, while recent, young veterans are averaging 14.7%. Black men, over 20 years old, are showing 20.2% unemployment and teenaged, African Americans, ages 16-19, of both sexes, show a mind-boggling 39.3% unemployed. Hispanic teens also report a staggering 30.3% unemployment. The long-term repercussions of these unemployment numbers are troubling, yet the Administration is curiously silent.
What part is hard to understand? When you are sent to failing schools, you do not pick up the skills and knowledge to get a good job.
The new individual internet-based learning is changing everything. As Bob Bradley commented in the last post here: “Education is the new business model, granulated, atomized and then reconstituted into a macro network ecosystem, seed to fruits.” Intensive efforts are needed to get minority kids into this handschooling emergence. Unless they do they will become increasingly unemployable.
Meanwhile Obama is spending billions on fixing failing schools so that “by 2020, this nation will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.” What it will mean to graduate from college ten years from now is unknown. That you can set up any youngster for handschooling is a doable fact right now.