Digital learning is the future of education

Published 9:39pm Monday, December 27, 2010

School administrators, teachers, parents, community leaders, and politicians ponder the future of education in America. Most agree that digital learning is a top trend in the world of education. The National Association of Elementary School Principals has commissioned the Institute for Alternative Futures to study the future of the principalship as part of its Vision 2021 project.

In an initial survey of trends and issues, school leaders reported that digital learning technologies will continue to change the way teachers teach and student learn.

Technology is transforming the learning environment in some schools. Gaming, playing electronic educational games, is becoming popular in worldwide classrooms. Paul Gee, a professor at Arizona State University, believes, “Gaming can drive problem-based learning, in which students develop skills as they work collaboratively to confront challenges.”

Students are often referred to as today’s digital natives. Digital natives are young people who have grown up with computers. Former governors Jeb Bush and Bob Wise jointly shared their vision for education in America, “Our vision is an education that maximizes every child’s potential for learning, prepares every child with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers, and launches every child into the world with the ability to pursue his or her dreams. By unleashing the power of digital learning, America has the ability to realize that vision today. Digital learning can customize and personalize education so all students learn in their own style at their own pace, which maximizes their chances for success in school and beyond. With digital learning, every student – from rural communities to inner cities – can access high quality and rigorous courses in every subject, including foreign languages, math and science.”

Students’ learning experiences extend beyond the confines of a classroom’s walls. In rural America, some students have a long bus ride to school. In rural Hector (Arkansas) School District, a school bus has been transformed into a mobile classroom equipped with computer screens mounted to the ceiling, earphone jacks, wireless Internet access and a separate scanning device to record bus activity.

The five 19-inch customized computer screens stream math and science content from PBS, NASA, the Discovery Channel, CBS News and the Smithsonian Institute for students to watch on their hour-long rides to and from school. The screens also include video-conferencing capabilities, which will allow a teacher to work with a group of students on the way home.

Budgetary constraints will not allow most school districts to provide students with high-tech school busses; therefore, various sources of funding have to be explored.

Digital learning is a part of the road map for the future of education in America.

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