Issues Challenging Education
by James L. Morrison

[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in On the Horizon, 1995, 3(5), 3-4. It is posted here with permission from Jossey Bass Publishers.]

In the last issue (Morrison, 1995), I stated that using the combination of Horizon List, Horizon Home Page and On the Horizon illustrated how education would be conducted in the 21st century. The basis of my statement was that posting draft articles on Horizon List for comment allowed for rigorous critique from a large number of people from around the world, thereby strengthening the articles, which were then published. Horizon Home Page is an easily accessible archive (point and click if you have a browser) of papers and commentary. This process enables people not subscribed to Horizon List to comment on the articles and responses to the articles, and these comments are posted, thereby adding to the commentary. Thus, as Carvin (1995, February/March) illustrated earlier, Web pages and a listserv allow students to post drafts, receive comment/criticism, and redraft their papers.

It occurred to me that if this is valid, why wait until the 21st century? Why not put one of my courses on Horizon Home Page now?

Fortuitously, a few weeks ago I was assigned to teach a new (for me) course on the social context of educational leadership for Spring 1996 that focuses on the past, present, and future contexts of issues that affect education. It is a required course for masters and doctoral students in educational leadership.

The specific objectives of the course will be to develop or to improve competencies to achieve the following:

  • conduct an analysis of critical issues in education and the social context within which they are formed
  • use the Internet's information resources to inform issue analyses
  • use multimedia presentation tools to communicate issue analyses
  • use written and oral expression effectively in issue analysis presentations

It occurred to me that we could add a feature to On the Horizon titled Issues Challenging Education where periodically we would include briefs (800-1,000 word documents) on salient issues that must be considered when planning for the future. Result: a call for issue briefs (see page 5).

Please consider writing an issue brief. This is tough work, but you will get the satisfaction of presenting your thoughts and insights to colleagues around the world plus a publication credit. Whether or not your brief is published in On the Horizon, you may be confident that it will be posted in the newly created Issues Challenging Education section of Horizon Home Page, where there is no shortage of space (unlike a five-times-a-year, 16 page newsletter).

A somewhat easier task is to nominate salient issues that would be candidates for students to consider when they are faced with deciding which issues they will tackle. All such submissions are eligible for posting on Horizon Home Page where they will invite comment and discussion from those browsing our Web site (which in turn will stimulate further discussion, which will also be posted).

Nominated issues and issue briefs posted on Horizon Home Page will be easily accessible. Entering the Home Page, you will see an index of the section titled Issues Challenging Education. Click on this title, and you will be carried to a new screen listing each issue. Click on an issue title, and the next screen will have either a description of the issue or a full issue brief, the name and e-mail address of the person nominating that issue (or writing the brief), and related comments. To comment, enter your message, which will come to me for editing and posting.

My class in the spring will focus first on critical issues facing education, using the issues posted on Horizon Home Page as a starting point, but also using information databases on the Internet and educational literature to flesh out the identification of critical issues. We will then select those we think are most critical. To give realism and perspective, we will simulate a special issue analysis task force for the U.S. Department of Education, with the expectation of presenting a series of issue briefs to the Department senior staff at the conclusion of the semester.

Draft issue briefs describing issue focus, background, driving forces, future prospects, and implications will be posted in the Issues Challenging Education section of Horizon Home Page , so that not only can class members read and critique the drafts, but so can anyone who browses our Web site. All comments will be posted, and can be used by students as they revise their drafts. At the conclusion of the semester, students will present their analyses to the class, and will be encouraged to submit their papers to On the Horizon for publication consideration.

I hope to realize a number of advantages by using the technology provided via the Internet and production software (e.g., PowerPoint, Word) in the course. First, students will benefit by having a multi-authored list of issues via Horizon Home Page to consider as they begin the course. Second, my role will not be "sage on the stage," but "guide on the side." I will not lecture on the salient issues I see, but rather, will assist students to get information themselves about issues from a variety of sources, including the Internet, and will assist them to present their analyses using multimedia tools to a professional audience. Third, this shift in instructor role creates an active learning environment where students spend most of their time exploring information sources, as opposed to passively responding to a lecture. Fourth, by publishing drafts on Horizon Home Page , students will gain an appreciation of the value of criticism in improving their writing, thoughts, and skills. Moreover, the idea of sharing one's writing with an untold number of people throughout the world may stimulate a greater concern for improving one's writing skills! Finally, by using the Internet and production software, future leaders of educational organizations will become sufficiently competent in these technologies to move their schools into the 21st century more effectively.

To make this project a success, I will need widespread input. Please send me your list of issues or an issue brief. Subscribe to Horizon List and post your nominations/briefs to the List, which I will insert on Horizon Home Page.

To subscribe to Horizon List, send the following e-mail message to subscribe horizon (no period). The URL address of Horizon Home Page is: (no period).


Carvin, A. (1995, February/March). The world wide web: The killer application for education? On the Horizon, 3 (3), 13-14.

Morrison, J. (1995, April/May). On the Horizon, Horizon List, Horizon Home Page : A forerunner of education in the 21st century. On the Horizon, 3 (4), 3-4.

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