The partnership between public and private stakeholders has never been more important to American education. That’s especially true now, as we consider the recommendations set forth by the Office of Educational Technology’s draft National Education Technology Plan. To make the plan a reality, collaboration among the public and private sectors should be focused in three key areas: continuing to support innovation through research and development, providing teacher support and tools, and setting standards for teaching and learning platforms that make the development of new applications more efficient.
21st century skills expertise
The plan’s success is critical. Only one in four employers today think two-year and four-year colleges are doing a good job preparing students for the challenges of the global economy, according to a recent survey conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. That number is alarmingly low and it highlights the beliefs of many employers: Our students are inadequately prepared to meet the expectations set by the companies that hire them. This is no doubt linked to student preparation and progress made from kindergarten all the way through graduate school.
The lack of preparation and engagement could be dramatically changed by leveraging the power of technology to provide personalized learning for all. As noted by Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education, technology is a “force multiplier” for teachers.
Integrating technology into the curriculum helps build the skills students need while at the same time making it easier for teachers to assess the development of these skills over time. A plan built on this foundation of personalized interaction between student and teacher, as well as content and assessment and their delivery mode, will help education follow the lead of many other industries, which have embraced technological innovations.
McGraw-Hill Education fully supports the proposed National Ed Tech Plan, as it addresses and aligns with the needs of 21st century teachers and students. The creative and effective use of technology will build collaborative, creative, and effective learning environments, and transform education and training in the same way technology has helped to transform the private sector. Technology will help convert highly skilled learners into highly skilled workers who are well equipped to excel in today’s global knowledge economy.
As noted in the plan, technology will increase student engagement and provide greater opportunities to monitor and assess students’ achievement throughout their learning careers. We fully support accelerating the use of technology in classrooms to enable the delivery of digital learning content and to give instructors and educators uniform, real-time, and transparent methods of assessing, tracking, and improving student outcomes.
The real question now is: What comes next? How do we convert the plan into action? Among other things, we need funding, infrastructure, broadband, and a standard for platforms. We support the administration’s initiatives in these areas and hope our industry will join in support.
Companies like McGraw-Hill Education can help to advance the plan by creating or more widely implementing innovative tools and resources. Alongside our peers, we anticipate leading this charge. With 100 percent of our K-12 content available digitally and 95 percent of our higher education content following suit, we hope to help all stakeholders in U.S. education embrace and adopt digital delivery.
It is essential that any new technology incorporate the best of adaptive learning and smart software in order to overcome any barriers to learning. These new tools also must contribute to enhanced classroom learning, consistency of learning opportunities across regions, and reduced operational costs.
We must develop products and services that support this plan and President Obama’s ambitious 2020 goal that all students graduate high school and become college and career ready. In addition, these products and services must support future changes in the education system brought about by new technologies, different economic conditions, shifting workforce trends, and other factors. We need to build an infrastructure that can handle such change gracefully and efficiently so our teachers and students can benefit from ongoing innovation.
Building an efficient infrastructure will require the creation of a standard system for technology platforms. If all of the companies developing innovative technologies for the classroom are “speaking the same language,” it will be that much easier for the developers of infrastructure to embrace the next great innovation, thereby improving efficiency and lowering costs overall. We then will be able to spend more time focusing on helping teachers, students, and parents, rather than working to understand how to incorporate changes across the education markets we serve.
To take this plan from a proposal to an actionable program, we need to promote collaboration among key stakeholders to discuss technology platform standards, innovations, research and development, teacher support, and more. We must create a sizable and stable market in which all educational stakeholders can plan and invest. At the same time, we need to allow private industry to do what it does best–innovate and collaborate with other companies, the government, instructors, parents, and students. If American education follows this course, we can reclaim our leadership position in the global economy.
Peter C. Davis is the president of McGraw-Hill Education.