By Sara Martin
The third Digital learning Environment Event, held on April 2 in Boston, had the most participants of any DLE event so far this year. The day began with a review of Intel’s k12 Blueprint for success website: http://k12blueprint.com. This site is an essential planning and implementation blueprint for any district considering one to one computing.
The jobs of tomorrow are here today. Future industries with high expected growth include:
• Renewable energy
• On-line Entertainment
• Medical Research
And employers say the skills essential for our future workers include:
• Science and math
• Critical thinking
• Self direction
• Life long learners
The conversation then, is how do we instill these necessary 21st century skills in our students today? This is especially critical when all of the above, with the exception of science and math skills, are virtually impossible to test. Our traditional high-stakes standardized testing techniques can’t possibly test self-direction, creativity or innovativeness. In this era of No Child Left Behind, our focus as educators, for sheer survival, is on testable skills, and these are not necessarily the skills our students need for the 21st century. Our vision must be to educate our students with 21st century skills by providing them access to engaging technologies in collaborative, inquiry-based learning environments with teachers who are equiped and able to use technology’s power to assist them in transforming knowledge and skills into products, solutions and new information.
Here is where the rationale for full integration of technology begins. Technology can be the bridge that gets us to the goal of providing what our students need for the 21st century. And it isn’t just the success of the individual students that is at stake, the future of our country is at stake as well. President Obama, in his speech on March 10, 2009, stressed the danger in letting U.S. Education fall behind, saying the nation’s place as a global economic leader is at risk if we do not do a better job preparing and educating our students. Obama lists four major areas for education reform:
1. Early childhood programs
2. Tougher standards, assessments and accountability
3. Recruiting, rewarding, and supporting outstanding teachers
4. Promoting excellence and innovation in U.S. Schools
Creating the learning environment for the 21st century student requires a major shift from Instructor Centric to Student Centric teaching and learning. Student Centric environments will include tools that will extend learning beyond the school day and beyond the wall of our traditional schools. These tools include learning portals, online libraries, online classes, access to other educational institutions and online learning communities.
Cost efficiencies are making the goal of one to one computing a reality, not just a dream. Improved software and applications that fit the curricular goals are getting mo re effective and more affordable. Companies such as Intel, hp and Microsoft provide support and resources to help make the dream a reality. For more support and ideas for integrating technology visit these sites:
hp’s site: www.hp.com/gp/TeacherExperience and
Microsoft’s site: www.microsoft.com/education.