Reforming Educational, Economic Development,
and Healthcare Institutions:
An Executive Summary for State Legislators
A Non-Technical Overview of the Impacts of Information Technologies
By Frank Odasz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lone Eagle Consulting http://lone-eagles.com
The following short report from the Dec. 2006 National Conference for State Legislatures conference www.ncsl.org/forum focuses on two main themes that relate to nearly every other issue discussed at the conference. The first is the need for transparency of economics and outcomes. The second is how information technologies can lower costs to taxpayers while delivering superior information and educational services.
Currently in power is the last generation of non-technical leaders who need specific assistance for understanding what’s happening around them with information technologies, particularly their risks and opportunities as leaders in a period of dramatic change.
The National Conference for State Legislatures, www.ncsl.org employs roughly 200 persons to conduct over 20 events annually with the main event being an annual conference. NCSL staffers gather and disseminate information to help state legislators be more efficient and effective.
(NCSL Standing Committees: http://www.ncsl.org/standcomm/standcomm_main.htm )
The following policy recommendations require new approaches toward rewarding innovation, inclusion, and integration of services related to how our institutions gather and disseminate new knowledge on an ongoing basis. The pressure to change is coming from other countries which have already demonstrated an advanced ability to innovate in response to change, particularly regarding promoting the impacts of mass access to the Internet and new knowledge to develop social and economic capacity.
New standards are needed for putting knowledge, people, and skills, together.
Our Healthcare, K12, Higher Education, Workforce, Economic Development and local, county, state, and federal governmental institutions are in need of major reform. In a global knowledge economy, due to the accelerating pace of change and the growing volume of new knowledge, legislative policies must provide incentives for all institutions to work together intelligently as an integrated “knowledge management system.” Policies must provide incentives to transition from the traditional “separate silos” model.
The opportunities for innovation are becoming more pronounced regarding how we’re learning to sustain national competitiveness in the 21st Century. There are emerging techno-social innovations for peer-mediated collaborative learning which can save tax dollars and at the same time help people build better lives, create a more cohesive society, and to become a more competitive workforce.
The United States Report Card
National Adult literacy rates have actually been declining. The national High School drop out rate is 30%, with rates of 70% for better for many ethnic urban and rural populations.
The U.S represents 5% of the world market and consumes 26% of the world’s resources.
The U.S. needs a strategy to create a trained, educated, skilled, competitive workforce with access to capital, infrastructure, and technology, supported by smart and effective public and regulatory policies.
If the pace of change within your organization is slower than the pace of change outside your organization, the end is near.
Jack Welch, Retired CEO GE
The Internet is the greatest single factor in global competition
The U.S. is in immediate and direct competition with other countries to generate fast-track learning programs producing measurable outcomes translating to economics and social capacity building.
An increasing number of countries are leapfrogging ahead of us. We’re importing skills created in other countries, faster and cheaper than we’re able to create them in the U.S. We’re exporting jobs instead of training citizens to keep the jobs here.
Seeking global supremacy in an innovation economy, the rules of the game have changed. We won the cold war and in the process created 3 billion competitors.
Increasing Internet access globally has evened the playing field allowing anyone, anywhere unlimited opportunities to self-educate, to monitor global innovations, and to market their own innovations globally at zero or very low cost.
The new dynamic is mining raw human potential with free web tools to develop inclusive motivational education models to grow an entrepreneurial life-long learning culture across all ethnic and age populations. Related metrics will ultimately define successful national competitiveness in the global innovation and knowledge economy. We can already look to China, India, and over a dozen other countries for how the U.S. can do better. The U.S. is 17th in broadband deployment, internationally.
From the NCSL “Future of Higher Education Sessions”:
In higher education, a $300 billion dollar industry, there is a resounding cry for transparency. There is also a sudden realization that no one has been keeping track of why costs have soared or how to measure the return on the investment.
A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of Higher Education
Below are four key recommendations from this recent report on the state of Higher Education in the U.S. which suggests radical reform. (Review the full report at
Four Key Recommendations from the “A Test of Leadership” Report
1. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, higher education must change from a system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance. We urge the creation of a robust culture of accountability and transparency throughout higher education.
2. We recommend that America’s colleges and universities embrace a culture of continuous innovation and quality improvement by developing new pedagogies, curricula and technologies to improve learning, particularly in the area of science and mathematical literacy.
3. With too few exceptions, higher education has yet to address the fundamental issue of how academic programs and institutions must be transformed to serve the changing needs of a knowledge economy.
4. America must ensure that our citizens have access to high quality and affordable educational, learning, and training opportunities throughout their lives. We recommend the development of a national strategy for lifelong learning that helps all citizens understand the important of preparing for and participating in higher education throughout their lives.
Assessing the “What” VS the “How-To”
The “Test of Leadership” recommendations suggest what is needed but does not detail the specific policy changes necessary to achieve these changes. The following paragraphs attempt to provide state legislators with specific insights directly related to necessary changes in policy.
The opportunity to lower costs threatens the status quo of traditional University coffers. What if the best curriculum can be used by anyone to teach, even by those without formal degrees? If learning outcomes are properly assessed, and the very best multimedia curriculum properly disseminated, we can resolve the pending teacher shortage of 10 million teachers projected for 2010. Each of us could become both learner and teacher, both consumer and producer, all the time.
Core Questions for Higher Education
Are degrees a private benefit or a public good? If Universities are businesses selling privileged knowledge and degrees for those who can afford them then they must accept responsibility for creating social-economic class divisions between those who can afford these products and those who cannot.
Who cares about Student Success? If universities exist to support the public good, understanding exactly what we’re getting for the money and what viable cheaper alternatives exist becomes important. The monopoly on certifying knowledge attainment by vending degrees can be replaced by alternative learning assessment models.
Experts quickly are no longer experts unless they are aggressive lifelong learners
The U.S. needs writers, global thinkers, and aggressive public problem solvers.
Degrees and appointed positions used to give status as “knowledgeable” and were wedded to tradition, and routine, but today information changes so rapidly that if one is not aggressively learning and keeping current their knowledge is rapidly outdated and valueless.
Universities are based on an age when onsite learning was the only alternative, and continues today on the presumption that onsite learning is always superior to alternatives. In reality online learning is booming because it provides specific skills for convenient ongoing learning through affordable anywhere, anytime, quality education; from anyone, anywhere to anyone, anywhere. And the peer collaboration tools and quality assurances are improving dramatically.
Anyone can now learn to use the Internet to produce learning outcomes for themselves and others.
Leveraging the Public Good, Electronically
If we are trying to serve the public good by making education at all levels more accessible and affordable, then we have models for online learning and peer mentoring that have already demonstrated dramatic cost reductions with appropriate quality controls and self-assessments for learning outcomes.
Learning-to-Learn; Quickly and Continuously
In short, if higher education is to remain true to its namesake, it needs to get out ahead of the public with trends awareness, new ideas and new ways of providing affordable education to all classes and ages. For example, MIT has posted all their curriculum online, free to all, as the beginning of an inevitable trend. (http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html )And an MIT $100 laptop is being mass-produced for third world mass training programs.
(Details at www.laptop.org)
Increasing International Internet access means that Higher Education for All Has Become Economically Viable. Anyone, anywhere, anytime can learn anything online if the knowledge is made available online. With proper learning assessment measures anyone can successfully teach themselves and others anything, anywhere, anytime. Low cost business models are replacing University monopolies for providing quality higher learning products. In addition, peer mediated knowledge systems are booming, with a significant number becoming successful businesses.
Higher Retention at 40% Lower Cost
“The results speak for themselves: more learning at a lower cost to the university. Institutions reported an average of 37 % reduced cost and an increase in student engagement and learning. Scores in a redesigned biology course increased by 20% while the cost to the university per student dropped by nearly 40%. (From Page 20 of “The Test of Leadership” – For more details see:
Interactive reading and writing can produce twice the memory retention in one quarter the time invested. Educational research reports 15-25% memory retention from lecture and video presentations vs. 40% memory retention from reading written material. When reading, the student is participating, rather than passively listening and/or viewing. The research suggests written words are symbols concrete enough to readily form permanent memory, where images, and a spoken lecture, can be so fleeting as to leave little permanent impression or memory.
Another advantage is that students can read an online lesson at their own speed, often 400-1000 words per minute, rather than to listen to a spoken presentation of 120 words per minute. It can be boring to be presented information at rates slower than one desires to assimilate information. Thus, online instruction may offer twice the retention in one quarter the time compared to a traditional classroom presentation at significantly lower costs.
Most teachers who have taken an online class prefer online instruction to traditional classroom instruction. They prefer the flexibility of being in charge of their own learning.
Add the benefits of fingertip access to specific interactive multimedia resources integrated with the written lectures, complete flexibility for when and where learning takes place, plus the opportunity for online collaboration with peers and - no wonder online learning is booming as preferred by learners!
The Emerging New Model for Businesses: Social Entrepreneurship
Multinational businesses have already proven the power of good online collaboration and learning. Businesses today compete on their ability to react quickly to changes in the marketplace, to changes in technology and on their ability to maintain the highest possible quality for ongoing education and effective online collaboration.
Key trends for businesses are social entrepreneurship and demonstrating social responsibility, often through new philanthropic initiatives facilitating widespread use of online collaboration and learning systems.
(More at http://lone-eagles.com/mainstream.htm )
The Emerging New Models for Foundations
Private foundations associated with successful businesses have demonstrated leadership for higher education on many fronts, such as the Edutopia online publication created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation www.edutopia.org which is equally accessible in China at www.edutopia.com Such globalization of educational resources raises soundly the question of which countries and cultures most value learning and honor educators who stay on the cutting edge of new knowledge.
Annie E. Casey Foundation Meeting on Family Economic Success
The need was discussed for grassroots information campaigns to inform low income families on available services such as access to healthcare, home healthcare alternatives, Earned Income Tax Credit programs, micro-lending programs, financial literacy education, entry-level ecommerce (eBay) and other educational programs and family support services. (A.E. Casey Fndn http://www.aecf.org/ )
Rural broadband is essential to economic development and viability in a global economy and the best training possible will be required to successfully realize the promise of broadband.
Adult basic education has become a necessity as is youth entrepreneurship training within our K12 system. In fact, youth often educate parents about entrepreneurial concepts and opportunities.
Motivating potential learners is at the heart of the problem. Teaching the love of learning requires putting the learners in charge of building their own knowledge.
We’re always ready to learn, never to be taught.
Winston Churchill – Constructivist Learner
Community technology centers and/or home Internet access as conduits for ongoing learning and access to assistance are increasingly available and affordable. Grassroots information campaigns typically need local trusted advocates to facilitate the process and current trends with social peer-to-peer networking suggest far greater potential for peer mentors than is the current practice.
Many adults fear technology while most youth eagerly embrace it. This generational divide can be reversed if everyone has the opportunity to understand the opportunities the technology makes possible via informal community training programs focused on fun, social, learning. Such Community Tech-learning Programs may prove to be the best way to reverse youth out-migration and to supplement and preserve preferred rural and Native lifestyles.
Training opportunities include generating successive entrepreneurial skills ranging from entry-level Ebay and ecommerce, to telework self-employment, to establishing call centers, to providing distance learning services including cultural entrepreneurship, multimedia production, and more.
At issue is how all citizens can best learn these new skills and keep up with emerging trends on an ongoing basis. There are too many scams and too many misperceptions which prohibit most people from learning how to benefit from existing rural Internet access.
A letter to the Governor of Alaska http://lone-eagles.com/support-alaskans.htm
“What is Community Networking and Why You Should Care”
What is the cost to the State and Nation if Families Fail Economically?
Individuals have responsibility for their own healthcare and education. Needed are policy incentives to help people live healthy lives. The opportunity exists to engage citizens socially, educationally, and meaningfully by promoting healthy lifestyles and values.
The highest level services need to be aimed at those with the greatest need, not the opposite as has been the case in higher education.
The recent billion dollar acquisitions of MySpace, YouTube, Skype, and others attest to the fact that dramatic opportunities for peer-to-peer social networking indeed exist, that powerful free web tools are proliferating, and increasingly significant economic opportunities are indeed emerging. Note that these billion dollar innovations were developed in garages, not universities.
As the quality and variety of free online collaboration tools increase the opportunities for “low-cost high-imagination” applications increases.
We need one-stop integrated services with emphasis on interactive services that work, based on human relationships, not just static web pages.
The Politics of Transparency
Prior to the information age, those in control were able to make decisions based on their control of the pertinent information when few persons had access to the same information as a basis for questioning these decisions. This era of the “Politics of Control” has largely passed in most developed countries but still dominates third world countries with populations lacking access to information technologies.
The current era epitomizes the “Politics of Appearances,” where media spin creates the impression that proper actions are being taken without anyone questioning whether measurable outcomes are delivered. One example is the mission of getting broadband to schools and rural communities without anyone taking responsibility for providing training or measuring outcomes. I.E. Assumptions predominate with no one responsible for outcomes.
The Strengthening America’s Communities Initiative www.lone-eagles.com/saci.htm promotes the need for innovation to achieve global competitiveness, but deals only in generalities – avoiding direct discussion of online learning, Internet applications, and how to innovate across our educational institutions. Does this initiative serve as a classic example of “The Politics of Appearances?” And no actions have resulted.
Today, ten years after the World Wide Web appeared, politicians are increasingly dealing with the “Politics of Transparency” where genuine accountability is being demanded as more and more factual information becomes available, faster, to all. Increasing speeds of access to information via the Internet has played a major role in this era of accelerating change.
Antiquated Legacy Structures Predominate
Federal and State agencies and funding models have created incentives for competition between agencies for limited funding thereby creating disincentives for cooperation and integration. Whatever good reasons might have existed for this to occur originally, these reasons no longer apply to the modern world. At issue is not finding fault, but the urgency of identifying new solutions.
Because of inappropriate policy incentives, economic development agencies and workforce development agencies typically do not work together. And mental health agencies and drug addiction agencies do not typically work together despite the obvious reasons to do so. (Approximately 50% of people with a serious mental illness have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder.) All four entities have every reason to be integral to health and education programs – which again are separate “silos” of funding and operation. The long list of similar disconnects has produced the fractionated society we can see all around us.
Within all such “silos,” change management is the underlying challenge as is the necessity for use of information technologies to lower costs by logically integrating appropriate services (matrix management). Generational barriers are very real in that most current leaders did not grow up using the information technologies which most youth today use on a daily basis. Current leaders are the last generation of non-digital leaders and need to understand their responsibility is to lead, follow, or get out of the way.
As a result, it is far easier to present appearances of activity than to deliver measurable solutions. The following review of key issues is intended to simplify the direction forward.
From the NCSL Health Information Technology Champions Meeting:
With soaring costs for health care and health insurance there is a cry for challenging the premises of these high costs – demanding the need for transparency of true costs VS inflated profits by hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, HMO’s, doctors, and insurance companies. There is a sudden realization that no one has actually been paying attention to why the costs have soared 87% over the last 20 years while wages increased only 20%. Roughly half of Americans can no longer afford health insurance.
More at http://lone-eagles.com/healthyvillage.htm
The NCSL Session “Coordinated State Leadership for Better Mental Health”
It has been 15 years since the Internet became a public highway for information.
Health information is the most sought after information on the internet
Mental health in the age of information overload and accelerating change crosses all boundaries. Mental health is often related to the level of social support, local role models, and ongoing community learning/education. Without a social support network, problems develop such as fear of failure, and the inability to develop self-efficacy.
Mental health and drug addiction both relate to boredom and the need for meaningful activities particularly related to social connectedness and ongoing learning about where else to put their energies. Prison populations are dramatically expanding nationally as evidence of our failed policies.
Community Internet Learning Programs are a Matter of National Security
State and Federal policies will inevitably begin to reflect the understanding that lowering costs to taxpayers can come from integrating information services related to community needs. Just-in-time inquiry-based one-stop models have been emerging that will eventually encompass community health, education, governmental services, as homeland security measures.
Community wellness, homeland security and mental health all relate to our ability to get the information and services we need across all agencies, “silos,” and global sources. We need community learning programs integrated with Internet knowledge access, peer social networks and peer mentoring programs. It is viable to create mutual support social networks for just-in-time inquiry-based learning and services.
We can create community learning networks with peer mentors integrating caring and connectivity with common sense. The need is for ongoing assessment of the best options as they emerge reflecting the authenticity of citizen participation and motivation.
Read more at http://lone-eagles.com/ncsl.htm
Summary of Key Points and Trends
Old knowledge has diminishing value in our world of accelerating change, new knowledge is what’s most needed, on an ongoing and timely basis.
The Internet allows us to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime with just-in-time inquiry-based information services – which is the new challenge for E-Government initiatives – to functionally use the Internet to build social and economic capacity through new services with increasing emphasis on 21st century online education (ongoing and for all ages)
Anyone can learn anything from anywhere and can teach anyone, anything, anywhere. Developing policies to create incentives to do so will require assessment tools to provide metrics for successful transfer of skills and new knowledge.
The capacity-building of individuals increases exponentially as they grow their ability for self-directed Internet learning and online collaboration to deliver positive impacts on the lives of many others using Internet tools.
Higher Education Institutions have a monopoly on the validation and accreditation of knowledge, but online learning business models are changing this, for the betterment of all.
Business and social sector organizations are exploring new synergies as evidenced by major trends toward social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility and new I.T. philanthropy.
Building social and cultural capacity through community Internet learning programs to create healthy communities is an inherent part of building sustainable economic capacity.
Solutions exist for providing affordable quality just-in-time inquiry-based learning services.