August 8th, 2011
transport of humans on rails began in the U. S. in 1834. The first
railroad cars built in the U. S. were flatbed railroad cars with 3 wheel-less
stage coaches mounted on the flatbed in a row.
Humans had never moved at speeds above 30 mph in all of human history before
railroads. A man crossing the tracks at that time, who looked and saw a
train coming, walked across the tracks anyway and was run over, he being
incapable of compensating for something moving as fast as a train.
Creating a car with steel wheels to run on tracks was a transformation so
enormous, humans had to evolve to understand and use powered vehicles moving
that fast. Trains changed the form of human mobility. But placing
stage coaches atop railroad cars was a failure of imagination.
Importing actual railway cars from England in those early years also failed
because American rails ran over rougher ground than in England and English cars
therefore tended to de-rail. The Troy Car Works in Troy, NY, came up with
"trucks" on which the railroad car would ride. The loosely-attached
trucks provided the flexibility appropriate for the American landscape and have
been part of railroad car design ever since.
The trucks were an innovation to make a transformation work in
Information technology presents us with the potential for the greatest
transformation ever because it partners with the core of humanity, our brains
and our minds. Web technology has already demonstrated its
transformatonal power socially and management technology has already
demonstrated how it can transform business and work.
But, so far, education has transformed around the edges only. Beliefs
about teaching and learning are deeply entrenched throughout our culture and
therefore highly resistant to change among parents, young learners, teachers,
administrators, and the entire education establishment: great initiatives
to improve education often amount to putting better stage coaches on railroad
cars. The stage coaches, like traditional classroom concepts of teaching
and learning, are segmented, ill-fitted for the new technology they ride upon,
and demonstrate no understanding of the potential of the technology.
Electronic portfolios are like the trucks designed at the Troy Car Works:
an innovation that enables the technology transformation to
work. Eportfolios let us go full speed.
AAEEBL is dedicated to the electronic portfolio because we see that documented
learning, or "evidence-based learning" as in our name, enables
learners to also go at "full speed," to be active, to connect their
learning experiences, and develop the habit and need to continue learning all
Institutional transformation based on building evidence of learning in
electronic portfolios is not only a viable way to guide institutional
transformation, but is also a wise and "electrifying" way. This
idea is gaining recognition and adherents.
The transformation going on in education worldwide affects all aspects of the
educational enterprise, from the credit system, seat time, evaluation and
assessment, and the role of faculty and students, to the alignment of academic
structures with social and economic structures that have evolved so rapidly in
just the past 10 years.
But, in the end, we value most highly how young learners learn and how they
develop. Now matter the shape of the enterprise, learners remain at the
center of our interests.