The conference, Future@Now: Transition to Digital Classrooms, aimed to raise awareness about the benefits of digital learning and celebrate the successes of districts that have already deployed digital textbooks in meaningful ways.
The conference is also intended to drive discussion among education thought-leaders, school district leaders, and members of the business community on the challenges of transitioning to digital learning, the impact of digital resources on students and educators, and opportunities to advance the adoption of innovative digital tools in order to be prepare today’s students for the careers of tomorrow.
According to Carvalho, there are many reform schools should have today, including less dependence on seat time and redesigning classroom interiors that “no adult would ever consider conducive to learning, so why should we expect our children to?”
Yet, the biggest issue facing education today, Carvalho said, is the digital divide.
“The conversation can’t start around devices,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of people say ‘It’s about 1:1,’ or ‘look at all the things this smart phone can do,’ but it’s the content and the practice that must come first, otherwise you’re just increasing the digital divide. And it all starts with equitable access to high-speed wireless and quality digital resources.”
Miami-Dade is the nation’s fourth largest school system. M-DCPS is now widely considered one of the nation’s highest-performing urban school systems as the 2012 winner of the Broad Prize for Urban Education and has been identified by the AP|College Board as a leader in minority student participation and performance on Advanced Placement Exams.
Carvalho, who is also president of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), said that it began with an understanding that 90 percent of all people start out in life with the same experience—the experience of being in a classroom.
“It all begins there,” he explained. “If there’s a digital divide in the classroom, it creates an opportunity gap. This gap creates the education gap, and the education gap creates the economic gap. This is why all classrooms in the U.S. must have access.”
(Next page: How Miami-Dade secured technology funding)
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