Feds invest in ‘digital promise’

“Digital Promise,” a new national center on teaching and learning technologies, has been launched by the U.S. Education Department, Carnegie and the Hewlett Foundation.

Digital Promise will work with leading researchers, entrepreneurs, and schools to identify and spur breakthrough learning technologies, determine quickly what’s working and what’s not, and transform today’s fragmented learning technology market, paving the way for the widespread use of learning technologies that deliver the best results for students, parents, and teachers.

If You Like Solyndra, You’ll Love the President’s ‘Digital Promise’, responds Seton Motley on Less Government.

What’s wrong with a fragmented learning technology market?

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  1. The first two paragraphs of Arne Duncan and Reed Hastings’ Wall Street Journal op-ed on “Digital Promise:”

    Student achievement and educational attainment have stagnated in the U.S., and a host of our leading economic competitors are now out-educating us. In a knowledge economy, such stagnation is a slow-acting recipe for obsolescence.

    Imagine, though, an online high-school physics course that uses videogame graphics power to teach atomic interactions, or a second-grade online math curriculum that automatically adapts to individual students’ levels of knowledge. All of this will happen. The only question is: Will the U.S. lead the effort or will we follow other countries?

    Are we allowed to opt for door #2? Let’s let others make the mistakes. Now, if no one else rushes to try to teach physics through videogame graphics, maybe that should tell us something. I object to the attempt to appeal to fear, “will we follow other countries?” It would be nice if we’d follow Singapore, and adopt an effective math curriculum. I don’t see the need to “follow other countries” in technologies without any track records. The record shows that the US is relatively impervious to international examples, so it seems my fellow Americans also don’t go to bed each night in fear of French educational milestones.

    It seems to be an article of faith that technology will improve learning. We really don’t know that at this point. “Us(ing) videogame graphics power to teach atomic interactions” sounds rather pointless to me. Creating a structured series of lab experiment, with class-based discussion and challenging reading selections (with the math to match), which lead students to deduce atomic interactions sounds much better to me. Show, don’t tell.