Literacy and numeracy are important. We all know our children need to be able to read and write and add up, but increasingly as the pace of change in our world increases what were once seen as fundamental aspects of education need to be challenged. And, thankfully, there are people out there not just challenging our assumptions, but intelligently going about the business of rethinking what our children’s education needs to look like in the 21st century.
The Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council, established by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, with support from the Joyce Foundation, released today the report Take a Giant Step, detailing a multi-sector action plan to enhance teacher education and a higher quality, 21st-century approach to the learning and healthy development of children in preschool and the primary grades.
Take a Giant Step is exactly the type of policy document that is needed to address the complex nature of what skills and knowledge our children will need for the future world, and the multi-layered approach needed to help them get there. This report does not just say we need to spend more on technology, or that every student needs an iPad. This report looks at the different steps and fundamental changes that need to take place if we are to ensure there is an equitable future where all children have the same knowledge and foundation in 21 st century skills and digital technology.
In the report, the Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council sets forth several goals for the nation to meet by 2020 to integrate digital media in education that can help bring the most underserved students up to speed with 21st-century skills, including:
- Advance technology integration and infrastructure – The Council recommends that the President and Congress expand broadband policies and technology integration efforts to cover publicly supported preschool programs.
- Modernize professional learning programs and models – The Council urges states, local districts, Head Start and other early learning programs to develop curricula and training resources for teachers and parents on the appropriate use of technologies with young children. The Council recommends specific reforms to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to integrate the use of technology in both preparation and ongoing training programs.
- Expand public media use as a cost-effective asset for teachers – Given their low cost, research-based development, but current limited use in early childhood settings, the Council recommends the creation of more public-private partnerships to create and distribute public media assets more widely.
- Create a Digital Teacher Corps – The Council recommends a new public-private partnership be designed to support a corps of teachers whose goal is to integrate modern technologies and best teaching practices to address the “fourth grade reading slump” that afflicts over one million young children annually.
Digital tools and infrastructure are not enough. Where is the value in an interactive whiteboard if a teacher does not have the skills to use it or the understanding of its potential when combined with other tools, such as Google Earth? Where is the value in investing in mobile devices for students if they are just used to read books and complete math problems? The greatest resources we have to support our children to think and engage and question in this technological age are the teachers charged with helping parents and communities foster a love of learning.
This report is presented by people who know what they are talking about: the Digital Teacher Preparation Council consists of 18 leaders from a variety of fields including teacher education, child development, literacy, science, public service media and technology. Take a Giant Step was written by Brigid Barron, Laura Bofferding, Gabrielle Cayton-Hodges, Carol Copple, Linda Darling-Hammond and Michael H. Levine. The full report is available on the Cooney center’s website.
I recommend that we as parents engage. Teachers are one part of our children’s learning, and GeekDads and GeekMoms especially can play a powerful role in helping our children, and those who educate them to understand and begin the process of integrating digital technology into the way teachers support our children to learn, question, and develop.
[This article, by Dan Donahoo, was originally published on Friday. Please leave any comments you may have on the original.]