National leaders brainstorm for digital learning

“We always talk about change and how it needs to happen,” he said, “but do we ever want our own lives to change drastically? Not usually, and that’s the mentality we have to get past.”

Coulter also noted that established institutions, like schools, have rarely embraced change, and that the momentum and blueprint for change needs to come from other places.

“Just look at the Beatles,” he said. “The recording industry wanted nothing to do with them—it was the people who spurred the change. If the recording industry is education, then students are the people.”

According to Coulter, students are more than willing to embrace digital texts, but first the “ecosystem” has to be in place—and that begins with connectivity, both at school and at home.

“I forget the exact number, but we’re around 60 percent to 70 percent connectivity in the U.S.,” he said, referring to households. “We need to be at 98 percent, at least.”

Another challenge is cost, but Coulter said money shouldn’t be an issue for long.

See also:

Digital textbooks get a boost with new offerings

Companies aim to help schools create digital learning environments

Apple unveils interactive textbooks, revamped iTunes U

“Technology is multiplying and expanding rapidly, and costs will come down very soon,” he said. “The real question is: How can we fund the capital necessary? How can we fund the IT needed to get past the tipping point? These challenges, among other topics, are what we’re here to discuss.”

The LEAD Commission, said Coulter, should have a working blueprint for using technology as a catalyst to transform and improve American education by November of this year. This blueprint will include input from teachers, parents, local government officials, school officials, students, and education technology industry leaders, he said.

“We’re at the tipping point of success,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “We just need to get that [last] push.”

eSchool News Staff

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