Symbaloo CEO Klaas Lameijer visited Washington D.C. last week to attend the Ed Tech Policy Summit presented by ISTE, CoSN and SETDA in conjunction with SIIA. It featured a host of bipartisan speakers, presentations and panels focusing on policy trends regarding digital education. SymbalooEDU believes strongly in the need for progress in digital education, so Mr. Lameijer had decided to participate in this event to show support in this urgent matter. Here are his conclusions and thoughts on the current state of education in the United States of America after coming back from the nations capitol:
The US is running 23 million educated people short
The United States, currently ranked number 14 in the world when it comes to education, is falling behind. Being on Capitol Hill to discuss and support the funding for digital education, it became more and more clear to me that Washington is not fully aware that countries in the so-called third world are preparing for what I call the ‘labor invasion’. Meaning that in the near future a lot of American jobs, mainly but not only in STEM, will be filled by foreigners, who have been taught the sufficient knowledge and trained in the right skills to meet the markets demand. In the next 15 years the US will not be able to educate enough young people to maintain the position of being the number 1 economy in the world. Statistics show that the US will need around 23 million more people with higher education than what the current system is delivering now. Leading countries in South America and Asia are prepared to fill that gap and started long ago to integrate digital environments in their day-to-day education. This money spent is seen as an investment in the future rather than costs today.
It’s time to wake up
It seems like Capitol Hill is still asleep and everyone involved needs to wake up and get together because this ‘labor invasion’ is inevitable. Every year, we as a society fail to invest properly in education and we are inviting other countries to take the lead by better utilizing the possibilities the 21st century has to offer.
E-rate 2.0 is only the beginning
Passing the E-rate 2.0 bill is a start in the right direction. It will make sure that everybody has access to the Internet and provide adequate bandwidth for the YouTube generation, which is receiving their knowledge nowadays from the Khan Academy. The bandwidth however should not be stopped at 1 Gigabyte but increase to at least 5 in the next couple of years. So far, only a handful of schools have more than 1 Gigabyte in bandwidth. We have to find ways to promote further growth and expand the bandwidth. One suggestion could be to increase the fixed charge on everyones phone bill as a direct public funding to support and implement the basic levels of digitalization of schools and education. However, this would only be a first step. The Federal Government has to make sure to fund enough devices to support tech integration into the classroom. Accompanied by an ongoing investment of increase and replacement of hardware and software, we have to create a framework of conditions that allows teachers to do their job properly: Professional Development has to be put in place to make sure that our children are efficient digital learners, ready to participate in this Digital Age.
There is hope
I had a chance to sit down and talk to California representatives Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and they – along with their office staff – are prepared and understand what is going on. Of course they pointed out that budgets are tight but they are also aware of how serious things are at the moment. It cost me a few a days to get to Washington and back but I think it was definitely worth my time showing support to the the future of the United States and the education of their citizens by providing the legislators with the latest data and communicating the sense of urgency on this issue.
And there is SymbalooEDU
Symbaloo is not a Non-Profit-Organization, but the basic version of SymbalooEDU is free and always will be. We got into the business of education because we truly care about our children and we think that education is the most important part when it comes to building a solid foundation for every member of future generations to come. And we firmly believe that SymbalooEDU can make a difference by providing a digital resource management tool that allows educators to easily share and curate their digital resources. Thanks to enthusiastic teachers across the United States using SymbalooEDU as their Personal Teaching Environment we have the largest user generated database in education, accessible to everyone.
Looking at technology use in the classroom, there are a lot of variables that are continuously changing and evolving: Bandwidth, level of technological knowledge, software, hardware, device policies. This is where SymbalooEDU fits in perfectly and serves as the missing link between all these options and changes because it is built on the only two constants that will not significantly change or disappear anytime soon: browser and URL. This makes SymbalooEDU – in its function as a digital resource management tool – the one constant for administrators, educators and students in a fast paced and constantly changing digital environment and a reliable partner in the day-to-day use of technology in education. With maximum accessibility (any device, anywhere), automatic synchronization and storing in the cloud, it is providing the smallest possible barrier to digital content and affordable access to online resources.
SymbalooEDU is utilized as a
- Personal Learning Environment (PLE) that accompanies a student from K to 12 and personalizes learning according to progress or specific needs.
- Personal Teaching Environment (PTE) that accompanies an educator in his/her entire career and supports individualized teaching.
- bridge to technology for the 2-finger-generation and Digital Immigrants among educators with its intuitive, visual and easy-to-use approach.
Looking ahead, SymbalooEDU is on the edge of technology and ready for the future as it is focusing on user generated content, cloud storage and social media integration.