Experts: Use national budget crisis as an opportunity

Chopra gave a brief explanation of three different ways the Obama administration is trying to leverage technology and collaboration to help schools:

  1. The Innovation Strategy, which includes Wireless and Start-Up America. See “Schools to get $9 million for off-campus wireless access.”
  2. The National Broadband Plan. Read more here. See the federal map of broadband availability for U.S. schools.
  3. ARPA-ED. Read “Obama highlights $90M ed-tech agency.”

“We need to figure out how to unlock the cognitive surplus of the American people and create and ecosystem of change,” said Chopra.

To help put into context exactly how the system of education is changing, or ought to change, was the task of William Rankin, director of educational innovation and associate professor of English at Abilene Christian University in Texas.

“The problem with jumping into opportunities is that often it’s hard to sift the technology that will truly help,” said Rankin. “We also have to know what the objectives are for 21st century learning.”

Rankin demonstrated how choosing technology tools is tricky.

“A technology becomes popular because it solves a problem,” he explained. “The technology then creates a kind of culture around it. However, that technology often creates its own new set of problems, which need other technology to solve. This creates tension.”

Rankin suggested that school leaders looking to invest wisely consider how the technology they employ will affect the culture of their school in a variety of ways.

Also, they must know that learning will change in relation to this culture.

Meris Stansbury

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