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2020 Vision: Experts Forecast What the Digital Revolution Will Bring Next

In September 1993, Linda Roberts was appointed inaugural director of the newly created Office of Educational Technology within the US Department of Education. The phrase “surfing the internet” was but a year old, and the tide was still low for the few knowledgeable enough to test the waters. Broadband and wireless held significance only to the most sophisticated techies.

So much has changed since then, but Roberts (who headed the Office of Educational Technology until 2001) and two of her three successors, John Bailey (2001-2004) and Karen Cator (the current director, appointed to the position in 2009), agree that the most dramatic technology-enabled transformations are still ahead of us. Recently, the three of them sat down with T.H.E. Journal Editorial Director Geoff Fletcher to discuss how far we’ve come in education technology, and where we can expect to go.

Looking back over the last two decades, what have been the most important education technology developments?

Linda Roberts: Two have been phenomenal. One is, of course, the internet and the vast world of information and resources, and the ability to connect with people that we didn’t have two decades ago. But the second part is the mobility we now have, so that the resources and connections are in our hands wherever we go. Those two developments, combined, are shaping the future.

John Bailey: The internet and broadband have been transformative in enabling all sorts of reforms. Online learning wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the internet revolution and the next-generation broadband networks we’re seeing now. When you look at any of the innovations that we’re talking about in education technology, the common denominator is the internet and broadband helping to create the platform.

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730 U.S. schools trying to reinvent themselves

The federal government has enticed 730 schools across the nation to reinvent themselves this school year, and nearly a third have chosen the most difficult paths to get a piece of the more than $500 million set aside for transforming schools where too many children are failing to learn  “This is tough, tough work, but it’s desperately needed,” U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday.  Most of the schools fired their principals and changed their entire approach to learning this school year, while others replaced much of the staff. Yet Duncan said “there’s been no drama about it. Folks have moved with an urgency that’s sort of fantastic to watch.”

The lack of drama was in sharp contrast to a couple of early school invention efforts, including one in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where a high school’s entire teaching staff was fired in February and got their jobs back in May after community protests.  To get federal school improvement money, schools in the bottom five percent of those not making adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law must choose from among approaches to turn around student test scores. The program is voluntary.

The approaches include: closing the school and moving kids to other buildings; restarting a traditional public school as a charter school; firing most of the staff and starting over with a new team; or firing the principal and taking a new approach to learning.

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School.EXE offers education strategy consulting, and implementation services to educational institutions and the educational companies that serve them. We partner to help organizations become better positioned to achieve their goals, allocate resources, and effectively plan for the future. Contact Us

 


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- Leading and Navigating Change
- Leveraging Tech. to Maximize Value
- Developing Organizational Capacity
- Strategic Advisory and Planning
- Technology Assessments
- Vendor Selection
- Content and Instruction Consulting
- Program and Project Management
- Integration and Interoperability
- Teacher Professional Development
- Support Program Development
- Shared Services
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