The Idea Behind
Issues Challenging Education

James L. Morrison
Educational Leadership
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In the last issue (Morrison, 1995) I argued 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 the argument 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, in turn, 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) illustrated earlier, Web pages and a list serv allow students to post drafts, receive comment/criticism, and redraft their papers.

It occurred to me that if this argument 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 ofture 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 social issues in education
  • 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.

Thinking about the course stimulated this thought: why not 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 (See boxed insert below). 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 my students to consider when they are faced with deciding which issues they will tackle in the course. And, of course, 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 may well end up being posted for more comment).

Nominated issues and issue briefs posted on Horizon Home Page will be easily accessible. When you enter 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 where each issue will be listed. 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 comments that other people have made vis-a-vis that issue. If you want to comment, there will be a place for you to enter your comment, which will come to me for editing and posting.

My class in the Spring will focus first on critical issues facing education by using the issues posted on Horizon Home Page as a starting point, but also by using educational literature and information databases on the Internet 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 US 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, with the hope that not only will 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, my students will benefit by having a multi-authoried 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 induces an active learning environment where students spend most of their time actively 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 one's writing and thoughts. 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 be sufficiently competent in these technologies to move their schools into the 21st century more effectively.

All material within the HORIZON site, unless otherwise noted, may be distributed freely for educational purposes. If you do redistribute any of this material, it must retain this copyright notice and you must use appropriate citation including the URL. Also, we would appreciate your sending James L. Morrison a note as to how you are using it. HTML and design by Noel Fiser, ©2006. Page last modified: 2/24/1999 7:53:28 PM. 21061 visitors since February 2000.