Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Future of Ed Technology? How about the global perspective?
This blog is posted after just returning from the National Press Club meeting hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). The presentation featured some highlights from two major plans--the U.S. Department of Education’s National Educational Technology Plan and the FCC’s National Broadband Plan as they currently exist in draft form. An additional presentation was made by representatives from the Maine regarding their pioneering one laptop per child program.
What did we learn?
The future of schooling may well be for the entire country to emulate the state of Maine and their vision of "A personal digital device at the point of learning" --with the point of learning defined by the learner. According to a 2004 report conducted by the Maine Education Policy Research Institute, "more than 70 percent of students surveyed reported that laptops helped them learn more effectively, produce better work and be more organized. More than 75 percent of teachers surveyed said having the laptops helped them better meet Maine's statewide learning standards." Visitors as far away Finland, Singapore and Hong Kong have visited and there seems to be evidence of success in terms of student learning. Clearly the drafters of both reports have kept the Maine experiment firmly in mind when drafting the draft reports unveiled today. The visionaries behind the Maine approach, Seymour Pappert and Governor King were clearly vindicated in their bold program that has successfully unified federal, state and local funding and policies to a common goal that places the empowered learner at the center of the 21st century school. The success of the program can be measured by the consensus that while (in the midst of the recession) Maine has seen fit to cut many areas of the budget but not their commitment to one-on-one computing.
With the positive message from Maine as the lead off--Karen Cator the Secretary's Technology Advisor who has only been on the job four months talked about five recommendations where technology needs to be used to reach President Obama's goal that by 2020 the US will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
All learners will have engaging and empowering learning experiences both in and outside of school that prepare them to be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in our globally networked society.
Our education system at all levels will leverage the power of technology to measure what matters and use assessment data for continuous improvement.
Professional educators will be supported individually and in teams by technology that connects them to data, content, resources, expertise, and learning experiences that enable and inspire more effective teaching for all learners.
All students and educators will have access to a comprehensive infrastructure for learning when and where they need it.
Our education system at all levels will redesign processes and structures to take advantage of the power of technology to improve learning outcomes while making more efficient use of time, money, and staff.
The public is invited to comment on the plan.
I have yet to carefully review the draft --but if there is going to be a national plan we need to provide some vision for the way ubiquitious computing can lead to the --as Karen Cator stated the "re-inspiration" of teachers to become more effective and enable their students to reach their potential. That re-inspiration is more likely to come about not because technology can provide greater order of efficiencies in terms of productivity and data management--a bias in this plan-- but also because we set out a series of best practices that motivate and inspire students to learn in ways that embrace our need to prepare students for a 21st century globally interdependent world. It would seem to me that the community has an opportunity to influence this report and by extension the debate about the role of technology in the forseeable future.
Steve Midgely from the FCC set out some key points that complemented the National Plan by talking substantively about the future of digital learning and how broadband speeds need to be increased to facilitate the best forms of the learning that require far more video and interactivity than most schools (and community colleges for that matter) are currently capable of using. He recounted that only 16% of community colleges as opposed to 91 %of research universities have the needed high speed bandwidth. He identified some of the barriers to online learning:
o Teachers prevented from teaching across state lines
o Limited supply of high quality content
o Limited digital literacy skills on the part of teachers and students
o Limited access to public data and transparency of that data
o Complexity of the E-rate program--he has some changes in mind for example for simple applications the equivalent of the EZ 1040 application, the use of networked school buildings for job trainers in after school hours.
Additionally Midgely referenced the need to advance online learning through
-technical/interoperability standards for government-generated multimedia elements, such as images from NASA, and data from other sources.
that would "help provide a uniform platform across the country for all kinds of online learning systems to consume that content, reassemble it.... [W]e should be provisioning all kinds of resources from the National Archives, from Smithsonian, from NASA, from NSF, from the Department of Energy.... All of these resources are digital; they're available now but in proprietary, unique, one-off formats. If we can get a uniform format to publish all of those resources, we can change the game in terms of how digital learning occurs in the United States."
Midgely proposed changing the copyright law to allow digital authors to make their materials available for educational use by marking such materials with a circled "e" symbol (ⓔ) instead of the current circled "c" (©). This would provide blanket permission for educational use of these materials, while publishers who did not want their materials used in this way would be able to continue using the standard copyright symbol. There was no discussion of what would constitute educational use.
So there we have it --a framework that helps to promote the idea that technology can be a vital force in meeting todays' challenge--creating more college graduates--so we can be more internationally competitive--but does not specify in enough detail how we can meet it more imaginatively and creatively than we have done in the past. Rather it simply points to the new efficiencies that technology affords and talks more confidently about a learner centered future. It is now our turn--the turn of globally minded teachers to make that vision more recognizable to every day teachers. We should not flinch from this exciting challenge.