The numbers tell the story.
Two million students, 18,000 teachers, 36 states plus the District of Columbia, 26 national organizations, 24 companies, and 16 state governors joined forces on-line last week to celebrate the first ever National Digital Learning Day.
Their message was clear: Digital technology powers learning.
Technology in the classroom is not just about the latest tools; it’s an imperative for a country with a high dropout rate competing in a globalized world.
As smart use of digital technology expands, it could boost high school completion. More than 1 million of our students drop out every year — something that’s referred to as the “leaking pipeline:”
Across the country, 24 out of 100 9th graders are below “Basic” on NAEP reading scores and only 72 will graduate from high school. Forty-four of those students will enter college, but 16 will need remediation, and only 20 will finish with a college degree.
Digital technology makes it possible for teachers to differentiate more effectively by personalizing the learning to meet the needs of each student at every level. With the right use of technologies, we can shift our time from classroom management to focused learning on HOW to teach depth of content and concepts. This is especially critical for our newest teachers.
Mooresville Graded School District in N.C., understands the important role digital tech can play. The district made a huge push to integrate digital technologies, and raised its graduation rate by 25% and is now 3rd out of 115 school districts with one of the lowest per-pupil expenditures in the state.
But what I most appreciate about digital technology is what it does for the teaching profession.
Smart use of technology simply develops our skills as teachers.
“As a teacher, I’m no longer just a repository of information. My role as a teacher has shifted. With technology, students are engaged,” said 25-year teaching veteran Esther Wojcicki, who teaches journalism in Palo Alto, CA.
And for those who think technology is not feasible because our teaching force isn’t ready, we need to clarify.
America’s teachers know technology. The number of Americans who have grown up on touch phones, Google, Facebook, and Twitter is growing. At the same time, we know that technology has gotten easier and more compelling for everyone: We all use it for work, to research, and to socialize.
So it’s not the technology that we need to train teachers on; it’s the pedagogical shift that needs to happen to use that technology well.
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama asked us to think about an America that leads the world in educating its people and digital technology can help do just that.
Secretary Duncan was right when he said, “Technology going forward is going to revolutionize how we provide education.” As a teacher, I can’t wait to be a part of that.
Claire Jellinek is a 9th-12th grade social studies teacher at South Valley Academy in Albuquerque, NM and a 2011-2012 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow.