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Digital Schools

Digital Schools: How Technology Can Transform Education

Darrell M. West
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 159
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  • Book Info
    Digital Schools
    Book Description:

    Nearly a century ago, famed educator John Dewey said that "if we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow." That wisdom resonates more strongly than ever today, and that maxim underlies this insightful look at the present and future of education in the digital age.

    As Darrell West makes clear, today's educational institutions must reinvent themselves to engage students successfully and provide them with the skills needed to compete in an increasingly global, technological, and online world. Otherwise the American education system will continue to fall woefully short in its mission to prepare the population to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

    West examines new models of education made possible by enhanced information technology, new approaches that will make public education in the post-industrial age more relevant, efficient, and ultimately more productive. Innovative pilot programs are popping up all over the nation, experimenting with different forms of organization and delivery systems.

    Digital Schoolssurveys this promising new landscape, examining in particular personalized learning; realtime student assessment; ways to enhance teacher evaluation; the untapped potential of distance learning; and the ways in which technology can improve the effectiveness of special education and foreign language instruction. West illustrates the potential contributions of blogs, wikis, social media, and video games and augmented reality in K-12 and higher education.

    Technology by itself will not remake education. But if today's schools combine increased digitization with needed improvements in organization, operations, and culture, we can overcome current barriers, produce better results, and improve the manner in which schools function. And we can get back to teaching for tomorrow, rather than for yesterday.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2245-8
    Subjects: Education, Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 New Models of Education
    (pp. 1-19)

    In a 1915 book titledSchools of Tomorrow,the educator John Dewey complained that the conventional public school “is arranged to make things easy for the teacher who wishes quick and tangible results.”¹ Rather than fostering personal growth, he argued, “the ordinary school impresse[s] the little one into a narrow area, into a melancholy silence, into a forced attitude of mind and body.”²

    In criticizing the academies of his day, Dewey made the case that education needed to adopt new instructional approaches based on future societal needs. He argued that twentieth-century schools should reorganize their curricula, emphasize freedom and individuality,...

  5. 2 Personalized Learning
    (pp. 20-32)

    Speaking at a recent education policy symposium, Mark Schneiderman, the senior director of education policy for the Software and Information Industry Association, said that “the factory model that we’ve used to meet the needs of the average student in a mass production way for years is no longer meeting the needs of each student.” He called for education changes that would recognize the enormity of the information changes that have taken place in American society. In today’s world, Schneiderman claims, students “are surrounded by a personalized and engaging world outside of the school, but they’re unplugging not only their technology,...

  6. 3 Blogs, Wikis, and Social Media
    (pp. 33-43)

    Recent years have seen a revolution in public communications. The appearance of new tools such as blogs, wikis, and social media has altered the way individuals and organizations convey information to one another.¹ There is no longer any need to wait on professionals to share material and report on new developments; today, people communicate directly in an unmediated and unfiltered manner.

    These developments have lowered information costs and altered the dynamics of information dissemination. On some platforms, communications costs have dropped virtually to zero. No longer are communications one way or based on organizational hierarchies. Rather, organizational expression moves in...

  7. 4 Video Games and Augmented Reality
    (pp. 44-56)

    In the entertainment sphere, there are numerous examples of video games that engage people and provide entertainment. By featuring powerful visuals, interactive activities, and episodic feedback through game scores, these technologies take players through various types of simulated situations and test their powers of strategy and gamesmanship.

    In countries like South Korea, online games such as World of War-craft involve thousands of individuals and represent a major source of social activity.¹ These massively multiplayer online games engage people and turn entertainment into a social experience. Young people congregate in gaming facilities and play games through high-speed broadband connections. This is...

  8. 5 Real-Time Student Assessment
    (pp. 57-68)

    Since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind legislation in 2001, educational assessment has focused on annual student tests. Starting in grade three, young people across the country take standardized tests measuring their progress in reading and math. The results of these state-administered exams are compiled and released in aggregated form to parents, teachers, reporters, and policymakers. The test results generate high levels of media coverage and have become a major measuring stick of both individual classroom performance and overall school achievement.¹

    At one level, these exams represent useful ways to evaluate student performance. They allow public officials to...

  9. 6 Evaluating Teachers
    (pp. 69-79)

    Teacher quality is one of the most important predictors of positive education outcomes. Instructors who are knowledgeable about their subject matter, committed to the learning process, and thoughtful in dealing with students make a considerable difference to the ultimate success of schooling. The skills that they bring to the classroom and their ability to engage students in educational activities is a major determinant in student learning. Given that only one-third of U.S. eighth graders reach proficiency in math, science, or reading according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, boosting performance is a critical national imperative.¹

    But evaluating teachers is...

  10. 7 Distance Learning
    (pp. 80-93)

    Technology offers a host of possibilities for connecting far-flung students with the classroom. It brings geographically disparate individuals together with instructors, allowing for a rich variety of educational resources and interactive materials. It enables those who live far from traditional institutions to take classes and gain access to various types of educational materials. Distance learning offers the potential to reduce regional disparities and promote greater educational opportunity among underserved populations.¹

    Observers claim that these programs represent a way to disrupt higher education and force greater innovation in terms of education delivery, teaching approach, and cost structure.² Rather than sticking with...

  11. 8 Nontraditional Students
    (pp. 94-104)

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has transformed education for special needs students. Since its adoption in 1990 and amendment in 2004, it has been credited with improving educational opportunity for children with disabilities. The law seeks to integrate disabled students into the education mainstream rather than separate them from regular classrooms. Before passage, an estimated 20 percent of disabled students were held out of school entirely owing to visual, auditory, emotional, or mental difficulties.¹

    With the enactment of this landmark legislation, though, the school situation changed dramatically. Disabled students would be educated in the “least restrictive environment” and spend...

  12. 9 Dewey’s Exhortation
    (pp. 105-119)

    In his visionary bookSchools of Tomorrow,the educator John Dewey writes about the need to restructure education so that it engages students and teaches them useful material. In the past, he notes,

    forcing the child to carry through a task which did not appeal to him was supposed to develop perseverance and strength of character. There is no doubt that the ability to perform an irksome duty is a very useful accomplishment, but the usefulness does not lie in the irksomeness of the task. . . . The attempt is not to make all the child’s tasks interesting to...

  13. Appendix. Digital Resources on Education Technology
    (pp. 120-130)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 131-152)
  15. Index
    (pp. 153-159)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 160-162)