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Technology in Education: Integral, Not Supplementary
May 07, 2010 (12:05 PM EDT)


The Source for Learning Takes National Recommendations One Step Further

RESTON, Va., May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Several prominent national organizations, including the National Governors Association, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Federal Communications Commission, have recently published recommendations for dramatically improving American education and America's available broadband technologies.  

The Source for Learning, Inc., a national not-for-profit company that has employed technology in support of learning for more than thirty years, takes the new recommendations one step further. SFL says that education and technology are inextricably interwoven, and the appropriate use of technology will enable tomorrow's students to be far better learners. This release consists of excerpts from The Source for Learning's position paper; the full document is available at www.SourceForLearning.org/sfl-stds-tech.pdf .

The twenty-first century classroom

Imagine what a twenty-first century classroom ought to look like. Teacher and students are learning together, with the teacher guiding students' exploration and discovery. The classroom uses technology effectively, not because specific hardware/software is in place, but because of the informed manner in which the teacher and students use the capabilities that connectivity produces:

  • Students collaborate with others, both in the classroom and elsewhere.
  • There is flexibility in the grouping of students and exploration of subject matter.
  • There is a willingness to adopt rigorous standards regarding both subject matter and technology use, and to accept flexibility in meeting those standards.
  • Teachers and students understand and abide by the ethical, social, and legal issues and responsibilities related to an evolving digital culture.
  • Students have a variety of options available by which they can construct, remix, manipulate, comment and demonstrate what they are learning as an ongoing process.

This use of technology should apply not just to formal instruction, but also to the delivery of continuing professional education for teachers and administrators.  

If our students do not measure up because we have failed to carry out the necessary changes, the loss will be theirs, but the fault will be ours.

Expanding the vision

SFL supports efforts to (1) align content standards to a set of realistic core principles and (2) increase the ubiquity of true broadband connections in the nation's schools, homes, and wireless devices. In the hope that we can assist in that process, we offer the following suggestions and observations.

  • Above all else, making broadband digital resources universally available and affordable will be a major challenge. Unless all children have connectivity -- in school and at home, every day -- we will be building our new model on a very shaky foundation.
  • Schools must focus on developing teachers' digital literacy. Good teachers will always continue learning; good schools will facilitate that process.
  • The network environments of schools and corporations are often different. Schools will need to be judicious in adapting information systems designed for businesses.
  • Many schools have found that open-source software is a real-world resource for students and staff at a fraction of the cost of using similar commercial offerings.
  • Cloud computing applications such as Google Docs save money and make staff and student work available regardless of the end user's location. The power of web-based collaborative tools continues to grow and show great potential in education.
  • Schools should strive for interoperability of data collection systems.
  • It is difficult to balance users' needs for information against network security. Access should be controlled based on individual needs and on students' accomplishments.
  • Assessment will remain a challenge. However, the digital classroom offers some new assessment opportunities: digital work product is easily preserved, and it can be evaluated against clearly conceived rubrics for teachers to act upon immediately.

The transition to a truly effective twenty-first century learning environment will not happen uniformly. Some schools will move more quickly than others. This is not a one-time transition, but a process of continual evolution and improvement. For students and teachers, change will be the only constant.

The Source for Learning (www.SourceForLearning.org) provides these online educational services:

TeachersFirst (www.TeachersFirst.com) for K-12 teachers

PreschoolFirst (www.PreschoolFirst.com) for pre-K teachers and administrators

Teachers and Families (www.TeachersAndFamilies.com) for families of students

GrowUpLearning (www.GrowUpLearning.com) for families of children birth-5 and 1/2

SFL Streaming, an online digital video library, in development  

The Source for Learning and associated organizations also hold licenses for Educational Broadband Service channels, dedicated to broadband wireless use in education, in 22 cities.

SOURCE The Source for Learning