Fairfax has signalled that the future is online
Fairfax media, publishing the Sydney Morning Herald, since 1831, is the latest industry to be forced to change, perhaps too late, in response to the digital revolution.
Many suggested the writing was on the wall 15 years ago and that tardiness, repositioning the business, has cost Fairfax dearly. It is terribly clear that the punters just don’t want paper and this has been very obvious, even to the least reflective people in our community. Change is just too hard for vested interests and ‘the clay layer’.
Last year I wrote a post about the demise of Angus & Robertson and Kodak, founded in 1886 and 1889 respectively, worrying that Public Education in NSW (1880), unless it became more digitally savvy, would suffer the same fate.
The demise of a company is one thing but Public Education is the bedrock of our civil society and altogether too precious to be lost. We need to change and a new coat of paint is not the answer. Managerialist tinkering will not be sufficient nor old-fashioned union action effective in improving learning in our state.
There needs to be a radical rethink of how we educate in our communities and not just for young people.
cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by anneh632
Looking back over the last two years worth of posts at my blog here are some musings about the need for change:
“If the education system was destroyed last night…”
Intellectual ancestries and philosphies of education
The Melbourne Declaration, democracy and school
Learning: a digital renaissance
What can we learn from the World Cup?
‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it is about the future’
We are having the wrong conversations, politically and professionally, about education and learning in NSW. Leadership is needed and fast. I suspect you need to be reading, thinking and articulating a vision for the future of learning at your school, with your family and in the community if we are to make it happen.
What is perhaps most frustrating is that we have had essentially the RIGHT conversation, but it has not been evenly distributed. All that has happened is that our new technology has made the change that is required more obvious, but as with every other model from the industrial era, most schools are painfully trying to graft the new technology onto their old model.
Some schools are even using the new technology for absolutely crazy endeavours. Look at the Math Emporium at Virginia Tech, for example: http://davidwees.com/content/math-emporium-walmart-higher-education
If there any lessons to be learned from the (dying) newspaper business, is that perhaps change will only come from an inevitable collapse of the system or model. While this is a scary prospect, death before renewal, perhaps that is what it is going to take to make real change.
There are many of us trying new ways of teaching and learning, and there are some in leadership who are also keen to change, but the pragmatic, pessimistic part of me thinks that for much of society, schools are in fact daycare centres. The need for educational facilities, prior to tertiary, as a baby sitting facility outweighs the role of education in many people’s view. Therefore the need for revolution (or evolution) is not pressing.
Then again, perhaps I got out of bed on the wrong side. I do hope I am wrong.
I think of my father in this debate, but also with a young child and some people saying ‘why have her use the ipad? Why not just let her learn how you did?’ Or ‘I used pencils, so is my kid’. Well, my child can and does do both and that is the point of contention in education, that one method, one system fits all and if you don’t fit that mind set you will be marginalised and belittled.
I would like to think that the traditional- ie newspapers, can live alongside the new, the digital.
I can see print media being able to not just survive, but thrive in the idea that extended, in depth journalism can still be printed on paper and maintain its relevance. However, quality journalism doesn’t only belong in the print form and the democractic nature of online comments is an avenue that those in the news business should be pushing to enhance their business.
I can’t help but think that people can have the hardcover copy of their favourite novel and a Kindle version with links to fan fiction, author interviews, reviews/critiques.
I would hate to agree with David, that so much of education is about doing, not learning. Still about having a quiet classroom, not the learning taking place. About making sure parents can be economic beings, making school about baby sitting.