Technology will not replace teachers

There, I said it, Karen Cator writes on LinkedIn. And with these words, I am jumping with both feet into a debate that has alternately raged and simmered since computers first began appearing in schools in the 1980s. The debate was reignited recently when Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), online courses designed for large-scale global participation, became one of the hottest topics in education. I wrote about MOOCs in my last LinkedIn Influencer post, “Education is Having Its Internet Moment.” MOOCs have huge potential to increase access to education, and especially to expert explainers. But we know that explaining represents just one aspect of teaching. Even as technologies for learning become more evolved, they will not replace teachers — anymore than commercial airliner cockpit technology has replaced pilots…

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ED’s former ed-tech chief discusses new role

Karen Cator (Digital Promise)

To say the political climate in Washington, D.C., isn’t conducive to getting things done these days would be an understatement.

That’s what makes Karen Cator’s accomplishments in her nearly four years as director of educational technology for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) all the more impressive.

A new national ed-tech plan. Coordination with the FCC on a national broadband plan. The development of an online Learning Registry with open digital content that teachers can use in their classrooms. The Connected Educator project, which explores how educators can learn from each other through online communities of practice—resulting in the first annual “Connected Educator Month” last August.…Read More

How to realize ed tech’s game-changing potential

The move toward digital education comes with a number of important considerations.

During a recent webinar, the nation’s director of educational technology highlighted how technology can support more effective instruction—and a North Carolina superintendent revealed how his district has successfully made the shift to a digital teaching and learning environment.

With support from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and modeled by local school districts across the country, school district leaders can identify goals that will help them make this shift themselves, while at the same time boosting student access, learning, and engagement.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in February that U.S. schools should transition to digital learning in the next five years, and in 2010 ED released its latest National Education Technology Plan (NETP), spearheaded by Karen Cator, director of ED’s Office of Educational Technology.…Read More

New nationwide online community opens for educators

There will be coordinated opportunities for educators to participate in live events and activities in dozens of online locations.

“Improvement requires connection” with peers, colleagues, and new ideas, said Karen Cator, director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Education Department (ED), at a recent ed-tech conference—and that’s the idea behind the first-ever Connected Educator Month, which kicks off Aug. 1.

To celebrate the occasion, which encourages educators to join online “communities of practice” to improve their craft, ED and its partners in the project are hosting a series of online forums and events.

“As we ramp up for the 2012-13 school year, teachers and leaders … have the opportunity to work toward a more connected and collaborative profession,” Cator said during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in late June.…Read More

Words that inspire

The panelists provided unique views on global learning.
The panelists provided unique views on global learning.

Live ISTE Blog – One of my favorite quotes comes from Uncle Ben of Spider-Man fame… “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I’m pretty sure that Stan Lee wasn’t thinking about ISTE keynotes when he penned that well-used phrase. However, that’s the quote that comes to my mind when I consider the impact that a well-thought out, well-delivered keynote can provide.

After years of attending conferences, I’ve seen terrible keynotes, great ones, and everything in between. I’ve seen solo keynote presentations, panel discussions, and a plethora of combinations and permutations there of. After all these years at conferences, I’m still amazed and thrilled when I see a keynote speaker or panel that “sings” with its message. What do I mean by that (because I’m definitely not talking about karaoke)? I mean that I appreciate all the keynotes where the message is clear, powerful, and well-delivered, and it resonates with the audience.

Overall, I really like keynotes. It’s the theory of “Educational Amway” to the highest degree. That’s why I became a tech trainer. Instead of teaching 20-30 kids, I could teach 20-30 teachers at a time who each teach 20-30 students. That theory is magnified with keynotes. When you’re doing a huge keynote presentation, the potential base of students that you can affect is even greater… You might be speaking to 200-300 or 2,000-3,000 or more educators, and that’s why I like keynotes. That said, it’s imperative that organizations really consider who they bring in for keynotes because it’s not just the message, it’s the way that information is delivered. Just like how we encourage our teachers to engage all learners, it’s important that all keynote presenters do the same with the audience.…Read More

Education groups rally support for EETT

Many say Congress should continue funding ed-tech through its own dedicated funding stream.
Many say Congress should continue funding ed-tech through its own dedicated funding stream.

Alarmed at what they see as a potential setback in federal support for education technology, several dozen state and national education groups and high-tech companies have sent letters to House and Senate lawmakers, urging them to continue funding the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) block-grant program in fiscal 2011.

The letters expressed concerns about President Obama’s budget proposal, which would fold EETT—the largest single source of federal funding for school technology equipment, support, and professional development—into a new competitive grant program that aims to promote effective teaching and learning.

According to federal officials, this new initiative would “include a focus on integrating technology into instruction and using technology to drive improvements in teaching and learning” throughout all subject areas. (Read “Nation’s ed-tech chief reacts to budget concerns”)…Read More

Nation’s ed-tech chief reacts to budget concerns

Cator talks budget, EETT with eSchool News.
Cator discusses the president's proposed ed-tech budget with eSchool News.

Karen Cator, director of education technology for the U.S. Department of Education (ED), has heard the concerns from ed-tech groups about President Obama’s 2011 budget proposal, which would fold the largest single source of federal funding for school technology equipment, software, training, and support into a larger grant program that aims to promote effective teaching and learning.

The concerns about the lack of a dedicated funding stream for education technology in the 2011 budget are “valid,” Cator said. But she defended the administration’s approach by noting that it encourages the integration of technology throughout all content areas.

“Every pot of money is really an opportunity to purchase technology, or to engage with technologies, to reach the goals of the program,” she said.…Read More

Feds release new national ed-tech plan

Although funding concerns remain, the National Ed-Tech Plan is a promising start to turning around education, ed-tech advocates say.
Although funding concerns remain, the National Ed-Tech Plan is a promising start, ed-tech advocates say.

The new National Education Technology Plan, released March 5, sets an ambitious agenda for using technology to transform teaching and learning, ed-tech advocates say–and a call to action that is long overdue.

The plan, called “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology,” calls for engaging and empowering learning experiences for all students; standards and assessments that measure key 21st-century skills and expertise; a shift to a model of “connected teaching,” in which teams of interconnected educators replace solo classroom practitioners; always-on connectivity that is available to students and teachers both inside and outside of school; and a rethinking of basic assumptions, such as seat time, that limit schools’ ability to innovate.

Julie Evans, CEO of the nonprofit organization Project Tomorrow, said the plan provides some “long-overdue recommendations” for how technology can enhance education.…Read More

Federal officials address ed-tech concerns

CoSN's CTO forum covered a broad range of ed-tech topics.
CoSN's CTO forum covered a broad range of ed-tech topics.

Before an audience of chief technology officers from across the country, Karen Cator, director of education technology for the U.S. Department of Education, and Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra discussed the nation’s ed-tech efforts and held a frank question-and-answer session that ranged from the proposed education technology budget for fiscal 2011 to removing barriers to classroom technology use.

President Obama has said he wants the United States to be the world leader in college graduates by the year 2020.

“That doesn’t mean we make college easier,” Cator said, adding that education conversations now are turning to whether it is possible for states to create real and effective college- and career-ready standards.…Read More

National ed-tech plan coming next week

Cator said comments and links to resources from stakeholders will help the DOE finalize the plan.
Cator said comments and links to resources from stakeholders will help ED finalize the plan.

The latest national blueprint for how schools can leverage technology’s power to transform teaching and learning is coming next week, said Karen Cator, director of the Office of Education Technology for the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

Cator made the announcement at the Consortium for School Networking’s annual conference March 2. During a morning spotlight session, titled “Latest News on the New National Education Technology Plan,” she gave attendees a preview of the plan.

Highlights included a focus on teacher professional development in education technology, supporting ed-tech infrastructure in schools, using real-time data and delivering personalized assessments, and harnessing the power of online learning and social networks to provide 24-7 access to tools and resources for teachers and students.…Read More