Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Technology: A 2020 Vision
While our school system debates their 2020 Vision by evaluating brick and mortar as well as program offerings in order to finally (hopefully) redistrict and consolidate our schools, others in the educational world are also creating 2020 Visions - technology based visions. While the redistricting in DCSS is certainly necessary, we have been stuck on this discussion for three years. I hope that this board will finally make these decisions and enable the system to move forward in focusing on providing the best education possible to our students, regardless of which building they attend.
The staff at T.H.E. Journal have compiled an article focused on the 2020 visions of leaders in educational technology. Entitled, 2020 Vision: Experts Forecast What the Digital Revolution Will Bring Next, you can read it here. The article interviews several leaders in technology, such as Mary McCaffrey, CEO of TH(i)NQ Ed, Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology within the US Department of Education and Linda Roberts, who headed the Office of Educational Technology until 2001, as well as others in educational technology.
What will be the next transformative step in tech-based education?
“I think we’re going to see the revolution from the students, if we can keep them engaged. We’ve separated the world of our students from their school world. When they go to school, the only thing they have is social—their friends they see. We block out the rest of the their life—their texting, their phones, their computers, for the most part their digital world. I don’t think the students are going to put up with that. The students will lead this revolution if we keep them engaged and give them hope that they can make use of these technologies that they love in their private lives and make use of them for learning. Teachers will come along with that because teachers’ role will change. In my 2020 vision, we’ll have teachers as facilitators and mentors, and the students will be directing, leading, and collaborating, even as early as elementary school. The relationship between students and teachers will be, on a whole, much different and more valuable.”
What role can technology play in changing the way we assess students, teachers, and schools?
Race to the Top [which funds states whose education systems are moving toward the US Department of Education’s school reform goals] set aside $350 million for the states to create an entirely new generation of assessments. One of the problems with our current system is we have the testable standards, and then we have the ones we say are nice to have but that we can’t really test now. These have been relegated to “bubble” tests. The opportunity now is to go way beyond the bubble test, to create a new generation of assessments that can give us much better information for students, their teachers, the school, the district, and the system as a whole. The entire world of assessment is about to change dramatically, and technology is going to be central to that.
Let’s talk about textbooks. What will be the fate of the traditional one print textbook per student, per course, per grade level?
I think over the next 18 months or so we’re going to see a transition from a predominantly print-based classroom to a digital classroom in which students have devices and the content is provided for them online in a much more flexible and customizable manner. We can take advantage of the power of technology to do things like simulations, visualizations, and games with better feedback, better adaptive materials, and better opportunities to personalize and conduct deep research on things that students are interested in. We’re going to move away from the notion of a print-based textbook toward a new platform. I’m hopeful about this.
There are all sorts of interesting revolutions that will come out of the movement toward interactive textbooks and multimedia. Using the Kindle app on my iPad, I’ve been loving the social highlighting feature in which you can see the passages in the book that hundreds of other people have highlighted and thought were important. That suddenly takes textbooks and reading to a whole new level. I’m not sure if I would agree with Karen that it’s 18 months away, but it’s closer than most people think it is.
How about this for a vision?
Thomas Frey, futurist, executive director of the DaVinci Institute
What barrier needs to be moved out of the way in the next 10 years to allow the education system to take advantage of the available technology?
“Who is the most famous school teacher in the world? I end up with a lot of blank stares when I ask that question. If I ask you who is the most famous radio talk-show host, you can probably name three or four. If I ask you who the most famous newspaper columnist is, you can probably name three or four of them. The difference is in one word: syndication. Teachers haven’t been able to syndicate their work because they’re owned by the institution they’re working for. We have fifth-grade math being taught by 10,000 teachers across the country every single day. Why do we have such a duplication of effort? Say there’s someone out there who is just exceptional at teaching fifth-grade math. Somehow they’ve mastered this like nobody else. We’re able to package it and deliver that course through some online medium that would enable students to learn from the best. They could sit at the feet of the true master, not the teacher who happens to have been hired for that job at their school. That teacher would become the most famous fifth-grade math teacher in the entire world. Teachers would become the celebrities of the students of that age.”
Let's start the discussion. What do we envision a DCSS classroom to really look like in 2020?