Panel examines ed tech, personalized learning

Students want to use technology in the classroom to collaborate, and they want project-based and authentic experiences in the classroom—and “in an increasingly digital and networked environment, we have flexibility to create what works best,” Zolt said.

Learning environments should be safe, integrated, and provide an opportunity for informal assessments.

“A lot of the districts that are still living in the 19th and 20th centuries view technology as an enemy, and don’t realize that there are safe and secure environments in which kids can collaborate and learn. We need more information and understanding about that,” Zolt said.

Spurring innovation

Joanne Weiss, chief of staff to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, said that expanding ed-tech adoption is a “critical, critical issue to our country going forward.”

In fact, the most recent international test results indicate that students of all socioeconomic backgrounds are under-performing.

“This is just a system that is not serving us well, and we can’t afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing, both intellectually and economically,” she said.

Highlighting successful education reform ideas and successful initiatives at a national level can help school districts across the nation brainstorm new and unique solutions to common and lingering education problems.

New competitions such as the Investing in Innovation and Race to the Top programs serve to “turn the federal government from a compliance machine into something that encourages innovation,” Weiss said.

Public-private partnerships are another key part of the effort to spur innovation.

Laura Ascione

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