The world of television is changing. (No, prime time sitcoms are not being forced to shut down once and for all due to their pervasively mind-deteriorating fare. I mean these shows aren't just intellectually insulting -- I think they actually make you dumber if you watch them. More on that another time.)
Nope, TV is going digital. Or rather it's gone digital. We are now in the era of all digital broadcasts and for those who did not get with the program, they are being left in the dust.
The FCC tried to warn them. The deadline to get up to the speed with the times was extended. But still, slackers being what they are -- SLACKERS -- there are guestimates that over 2.8 million American homes will simply get a blank, blue screen if they did not obtain a converter box when they turn on their tube. (BTW, the cost of this box is $40 but there is a government coupon
to offset a large part of that fee.)
And why is this important? Because it shows that people often do not change until they are forced to change. Whether it's a DNA style weakness in the human animal or simply a product of culture (i.e. the nature versus nurture argument) I think the bigger point is that we all recognize that when Arnold Schwarztenegger says he is going to end the age of textbooks, we need to expect that there is going to be whining and moaning and people incredibly reluctant to get with the program.
And they will drag their feet.
And there will be problems in the conversion, too. (I believe the word being tossed around these days is "discomforting" when it comes to adapting to new technologies in our lives.)
But does that mean we should not move on from a very stagnant educational tool which has clearly stopped serving the needs of the students in the way we now need these needs served? (By that I mean textbooks.)
Of course not!
2.8 million homes are gonna go "What the F%$(@?" when they try to turn on their TV this week. And inevitably, there is going to be a huge surge in demand for these conversion boxes because people are going to realize the necessity of getting with the program.
And I expect the same thing for quite some time in education as well. A heck of a lot of folks will be squawking and refusing to want to buy into the idea that technology (while still problematic in so many ways, I agree) is here to stay.
But at some point, we will convert and the tools being considered to replace the 5 pound textbook strike me as exciting, innovative, intelligent and excellent.
BTW, the best ideas inside the textbooks are not being kicked to the curb -- simply the tool which delivers these ideas. And once people recognize that Shakespeare, Chaucer, Austen and so on are NOT being thrown under the bus -- only the beastly, cumbersome, excessively expensive textbooks are -- then I think folks will realize that we are most assuredly moving in a positive, progressive direction.
Will there be problems? Yep. But are there problems now? Immensely so.
Therefore, the stagnant pot of school is about to be stirred by the spoon of innovation.
Like the old children's game of hide-n-seek, the Governator just cried out, "Ready or not, here I come!"
And textbook publishers have got to be shivering. Disruptive innovation is about to disrupt their profit stream in a crazy way. Just ask the newspaper industry.