LEADing the Way in Education Technology

Thursday, June 20, 2013 -- Ashlee Tatum

The Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) commission was created in March of 2012 in response to a challenge from  the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Education. LEAD brought together experts in education and technology to identify and articulate the opportunity for using technology as a catalyst to transform and improve American education.

LEAD members include: Columbia University President Lee Bollinger; Co-Founder of TPG Capital James Coulter; Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Common Sense Media Founder and CEO Jim Steyer. Last week, LEAD issued a five-point blueprint called Paving a Path Forward for Digital Learning in the United States.

The commission considers its plan to be ambitious, but achievable, largely because advances in technology have made implementation of the blueprint to be far more affordable than even just five years ago. Wi-Fi that is far more affordable and available and cloud-based software-as-a-service solutions have replaced expensive and quickly outdated shrink-wrapped software.

The five recommendations of LEAD are:

  • Solve the Infrastructure Challenge by Upgrading the Wiring of our Schools (“Proper technology infrastructure in schools is the 21st century equivalent of 'heat and electricity'.”)
  • Build a National Effort to Deploy Devices (“Once devices achieve large scale deployment in  classrooms, educational content development will dramatically accelerate.”)
  • Accelerate The Adoption of Digital Curriculum
  • Embrace and Encourage Model Schools
  • Invest in Human Capital

The report is worth reading, but just to touch briefly on one recommendation, the last one, Invest in Human Capital. As the blueprint says, “Digital learning is not about 'one to one' learning between a student and a device; it is about 'one to one to one' learning between a teacher, a student, and a device.” LEAD's polling indicates that while 96% of teachers believe that the integration of technology in teaching and learning is important to the education of America's students, only 18% of teachers believe they are receiving the necessary training to use technology to its fullest potential in the classroom. Because the teacher remains – and will always remain – an integral part of the evolving 21st century classroom, professional development to help support and empower teachers is key to maximizing the effectiveness of the learning environment.

As the blueprint states, “Just as the nation once came together to build the interstate highway system, today we must come together to connect and enable a revolution in learning.” What is your five point plan for comprehensive implementation of technology in the classroom?

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