New group aims to spur technology’s role in education

A new initiative aims to help policy makers better integrate technology in education.

Spurred by calls for change from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED), a group of educational technology stakeholders has formed a new ed-tech advocacy commission that will “develop a blueprint detailing the opportunity for using technology as a catalyst to transform and improve American education.”

The Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission will seek input from teachers, parents, local government officials, students, and ed-tech industry leaders and experts. It expects to release findings and a blueprint for action in late 2012.

The LEAD Commission will be co-chaired by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger; James Coulter, co-founder of private investment firm TPG Capital; former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Common Sense Media Founder and CEO James Steyer.

Building on ED’s National Educational Technology Plan and the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, the LEAD Commission has a number of primary goals, such as identifying…

  • Which technology innovations are having a positive impact on teaching and learning, and in what ways.
  • Which specific sectors might be best suited for more rapid adoption of digital tools.
  • How students are taught basic digital skills like getting online, using software, and researching issues, and how they are taught to think analytically, critically, and creatively about the information they access online.
  • How teachers are being trained to make the most effective use of technology in the classroom.
  • Whether or not new policies are needed to facilitate faster ed-tech adoption or eliminate roadblocks.
  • What national, state, and local governments could do to accelerate the adoption of established digital innovation.

“Our goal with this commission is to help policy makers to more swiftly and effectively integrate digital learning into our national curriculum,” Coulter said, noting that technology has positively influenced and informed practice in other industries.

And while technology holds great potential for education, most agree that education has been slower to adopt new changes than other industries.

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