How social networking in school can drive innovation

When students connect globally through social networking in school, they develop important skills, ed-tech advocates say.

Countries around the world are leveraging the power of social networking in school to prepare students for highly competitive workplace environments, and the U.S. education system could learn from some of those best practices, ed-tech experts say.

A conversation between two nationally recognized ed-tech advocates reveals that the United States, often ranked near the bottom of industrialized nations in terms of teacher preparation, can take more steps to “globalize” K-12 education. And that, in turn, could help with workforce development and innovation, they say.

“We’re seeing incredible applications right now; numerous examples of how [ed-tech] content and tools impact learning and the digital school ecosystem,” said Tim DiScipio, co-founder of ePals.

An important question is how educators and policy makers should assess these digital learning environments and the impact they might have in 10, 20, or even 30 years.

“We’re at this doorstep of enormous technology coming into learning, and yet there are still [traditional practices],” DiScipio said. “It’s probably one of the messiest points I’ve seen in the last 10 years.”

He described what he calls an “internet web sprawl,” with a variety of digital learning tools and applications, each with its own username and password. Some involve hardware, others are cloud-based, but all lack centralization.

“We’re in this very interesting transformation,” DiScipio said. “Who is defining academic excellence in the 21st century as it relates to [ed tech]? How are countries and their school systems positioning for innovation? What’s the roadmap to have kids using the technology in a way where, when they get out of school, it’s so complementary that they bring [those skills] right to the workforce and impact a country’s economy?”

(Next page: “Social learning”—and its place in workforce development)

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