Book: Education Nation

Milton Chen, Education Nation

Milton Chen, Education Nation

This lovely book has just arrived through the post. The author is my good friend Milton Chen, former executive director and now senior fellow at the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF). Those with a long memory may recall that George Lucas, the Star wars director, spoke about Glow at the US House of Representatives in 2008 suggesting that there might be some lessons to be learned from the vision of the Scottish Government and the strategic investment made in educational technology.

Not yet had a chance to do much more than have a quick browse through Education Nation – Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools but it looks like a great read full of ideas, insights and inspiration.

George Lucas begins the foreword by saying:
I didn’t enjoy school much. Occasionally, I had a teacher who would inspire me. But as an adult, as I began working with computer technology to tell stories through film, I began to wonder, “Why couldn’t we use these new technologies to help improve the educational process?’

And so the story begins.

Further on Milton describes Glow  as ‘Scotland’s enlightened idea’:
Once again innovation has come from another nation, and that nation is Scotland. Perhaps it’s fitting that the nation that gave rise to so many scientific and technological discoveries during and after the Scottish Enlightenment, from James Watt’s steam engine to Lord Kelvin’s work in thermodynamics, also illuminated a bold idea to shape the Internet for education.

Milton also quotes something I said a few years ago,  which I still stand by (although the I might want to slightly rephrase):
The technology is complex but probably easier than the human, political and cultural issues. You need to be strong on both sides of the equation. You need great technology to support education, because the context is ultra-complex and highly dynamic. But without the human dimension, even the best technology is doomed to provide a very poor return on investment.

Everything I have seen in my 25 years working in the field of educational technology confirms this view. It is not about either people or technology but always about both. The most sophisticated educational technology solution will fail unless it accompanied by a human-centric approach to implementation.

Looking forward to spending a few evenings with a glass of Californian red wine, thinking about my visit to Skywalker Ranch in the summer of 2008 and following Milton’s journey ‘from the longest street in the world to a galaxy long ago and far, far away‘.

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