Playing Catch Up

Allow me to set the stage.

There’s a beautiful backdrop. The trees, painted on the flats because it’s a junior high play, are vibrant with various shades and hues of green. The shade they give off looks inviting, like you want to take your dog Skip and have a picnic in it. The birds, oh the birds, they aren’t that stupid ‘M’ you see so often. No, these birds were clearly drawn with care. You know these birds. Finally, there’s the grass. You know it’s painted on a large wood plank, but you want to run in that grass. Frolic, if you may.

Everything about the backdrop is so warming, welcoming, and above all, comfortable. You have a history with it. You know it. You know how it feels. You know how it smells. You’re comfortable with it, and you’d rather not change it.

Now, the scene. What’s going on in front of that comforting backdrop?

You’re confused. This makes no sense. In front of this beautiful, comfortable background that you know so well, is this scene straight out of iRobot. You know, when the robots are being made or whatever. In the factory thing. Yeah, that one (no, no I haven’t seen the entire movie. Is it that obvious?).

The scene is visually stunning, but it’s completely opposite the background. Honestly, robots are cool and all, but a robot factory just doesn’t fit into that background, picnics with Skip, frolicking in the grass and whatnot.

On the surface, everything looks good. Take in just the background or just the action in the current scene separately and they look fine.

But together, they’re a mess.

Welcome to education systems in the 21st century.

I have an integrated brand promotions textbook, published in 2009, that refers to advertising online as “cyberspace.” As a friend of mine who also works in digital media likes to say, “the book makes it sound as if we work in the porn world.”

Oh, not to mention that there’s about two paragraphs on the subject. Two. And one of them tells me that copywriting for the web is most similar to copywriting for print. It mentions banner ads and pop-ups as good forms of advertising online. It fails to mention anything about bounce rate, clickthroughs, conversions, and other terms that internet marketers take for granted.

Oh, and although we haven’t read through the whole book, I haven’t read a damn thing about mobile. You know, that one industry that is FREAKING BOOMING right now.

Therein lies the problem. We don’t have a background (education system) that keeps up with the live-action (how long until IBP through geolocation, a la AJ Bombers, is in my textbook?).

But it’s a larger issue than textbooks. It’s a larger issue than class projects. It’s larger than professors who simply don’t understand these media, through apathy or otherwise.

It’s the structure of our education system at large. It is a slow, bureaucratic, red tape beast that isn’t necessarily resistant to change, but is just sooooo daaaammmmnnnn sloooowwww. It’s like the fat kid in gym class that, yeah, would eventually finish the mile run, but the rest of the class was in the showers five minutes ago. The education system is playing catch-up all the time.

It’s great to talk about changing education. But it cannot start in the classroom. As much as it pains me to say this, it must start in the background. It must start in the board meetings, in the office of the Dean, or Superintendent.

The foreground can look really friggin’ awesome, but unless the background changes with it, we can’t get the whole picture. The whole idea. The whole education.

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