Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology

The National Educational Technology Plan 2010 was published this March. (You can download a copy of the Executive Summary here.) If you work in educational technology, I encourage you to take a look at this -- it is pretty interesting. Here are some points that I found especially interesting:

  •  21st Century competencies that our students must have include critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and "multimedia communication".  I'm not sure what they are thinking of for multimedia communication -- Use of multimedia tools in presentations? Webinars? 
  • Students must be able to both develop deep understanding in specific content areas and make connections between content areas.I think that it is the connections between content areas that is most important, because that is how new knowledge is created.
  • Assessment of student performance must happen while there is still time to make improvements. I'm afraid that this will be translated to mean have more standardized tests. I believe it would be more useful to teach students how to self-assess. A score on a standardized test is not as valuable as the ability understand one's own strengths and weaknesses, and to chart a course of perpetual improvement.
  •  The Plan calls for a shift from teachers that are "solo practitioners" to one of "connected teaching." To make this possible, the Plan suggests that teacher professional development must stop being "episodic and ineffective" and become "collaborative, coherent and continuous." I believe that we need to move from a model where teachers are dispensers of facts, and more fellow learners who model how to assess, plan, and execute learning.


Oddprofessor said...

I agree substantially with these four points, which is why I disagree so strongly with one of your conclusions in your "Future Of eLearning" post, specifically: "What does this mean for eLearning? That most efficient decision for what to learn is the one made by the student."

Students have told me innumerable times that they ONLY want to learn what has a direct and immediate application to their majors/career plans. I have been told that homework should not be necessary if the teacher is a good one. I have been told that making connections is "too hard," and that I should be asking for facts that can be categorized and memorized.

Our students are immature, naive problem solvers, many of whom are stuck at a fairly early developmental stage in their ways of knowing. The points you make in this post are important ones, and they won't be achieved if we leave the question of what to learn and how to learn it in our students' hands.

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