While I am delighted that Congressman George Miller has introduced new technology legislation*, it has weaknesses as I read it. All of the items are worthwhile, but in my opinion they are not the central issues. We need leaders who have insight and a new vision of what the digital world is bringing us. Already five year olds are iPad literate. How will schools treat these new five year olds and how will we bridge the gap between the digital home and the non-digital home?
Just as fifty years ago broadcast television forced schools to acknowledge Sesame Street, Mister Rogers Neighborhood and other television influences, today we must adjust to iPad home users. To meet these challenges there must be:
- An Assistant Secretary for Technology and Information sciences in U.S. DOE that provides national leadership.
- A staff-training program for both teachers and administrators that rebuilds the staff to use the new digital resources.
- A national digital library accessible via cloud technologies. The library should contain both commercial and government developed video, computer programs and ebook materials. Users must be able to access it 24/7 year round.
- A research and development program that creates new materials modeled after comprehensive multiple media products such as The Voyage of the Mimi.
- A digital assessment system for all materials used to reach the common core curriculum.
- A public awareness program that provides the public with knowledge about the changes in schools and the importance of these new learning and teaching tools and how they are used both in the home and classroom. The little red school house with the all knowing teacher is obsolete.
- A training program for administrators and school boards to understand a digital year round school model.
- A wide range of very different experiences in schools, including laboratories, camp experiences (space camp, for example), team building projects, and community experiences. The digital world opens the world as a resource for learning.
Change will take place. It will be nice if our leadership has the wisdom to understand the digital world and how important it is to be a leader rather than a follower. We need radical rethinking, not tinkering with the obsolete current educational model.
These changes will take place regardless of whether or not we provide national leadership because the technology is here. The question is whether we will have wise enough leadership with a systematic vision that guides these Earth-shattering changes. If we are wise, we will guide the radical shifts from the old model to the new model of learning and teaching.
Every child deserves the best education we, the people, can give. It is up to us to make it happen.
* Webcitation alternative.
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