While touring a North Carolina school where every student has a laptop, President Barack Obama called for 99 percent of American students to be connected to high-speed Internet within five years. The President announced that he is directing federal regulators to turn the nation’s public school classrooms into digital learning centers “by equipping schools with broadband and high-speed Internet connections.”
Additionally, Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called for a uniform increase in bandwidth capacity across U.S. schools. In their op-ed for Politico, Rep. Eshoo and Commissioner Rosenworcel suggested it is possible to accomplish this by updating an existing program at the FCC, the E-Rate. Put in place following the Telecommunications Act of 1996, E-Rate is the nation’s largest education technology program. Rep. Eshoo and Commissioner Rosenworcel stress: “We should do this now because in the world we live in broadband capacity is not a luxury. It is a necessity for our next generation to compete.”
The country’s top decision makers aren’t the only ones highlighting the importance of changing education in the digital age. TAP scholar John Palfrey – Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and Head of School at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts – discusses this in his new article for Independent Schools Magazine, “Embracing Our Students’ Desire for a Different Kind of Teaching.”
In the piece, Palfrey emphasizes that, by and large, students have expressed an overwhelming desire to learn their curriculum via the latest online tools. However, learning in the digital era is more than having students use the latest technologies in the classroom. It is about the theory of “connected learning” which offers a positive frame for thinking about how to take advantage of the best parts of the digital age while avoiding its pitfalls. It is a way to think about how technology not only can improve student learning, but also advance approaches to teaching. In particular, Palfrey says that of the many ways in which connected learning can take place, three stand out as opportunities:
- At the margins of the curriculum: Making available positive experiences for students that they would ordinarily not have in their core studies. For example: establish online connections with teachers and professionals working in specialized areas (fashion design, Chinese calligraphy) that are not available to students in their community.
- At the core of the curriculum: Making specific improvements to traditional, existing approaches to teaching, such as having students learn materials through online games, interactive tablet applications and/or digitized texts or images.
- As a form of public outreach: Schools sharing their connected learning best practices and resources with those that are not among their own student body. For example, a school with a library, archive or museum might digitize some of its educational materials to share with the world via projects such as the Digital Public Library of America, which launched in April 2013.
Read the entire article: “Embracing Our Students’ Desire for a Different Kind of Teaching.”
John Palfrey is a director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. As of July 2012, he has been serving as the Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover. He also serves as the chair of the Steering Committee of the Digital Public Library of America.
About John Palfrey
John Palfrey will be Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School during the winter of 2021. He became the president of the MacArthur Foundation in the fall of 2019. Mr. Palfrey is a well-respected educator, author, legal scholar, and innovator with expertise in how new media is changing learning, education, and other institutions.