During a March 8 speech at SXSWedu’s second annual conference on innovations in learning in Austin, Texas, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called technology the “new platform for learning,” and outlined several ways that technology is already changing education-from helping teachers personalize education to students working at their own pace-and highlighted locations around the country that are using technology to boost student achievement and engagement.
“I really believe that technology is a game changer in the field of education-a game changer we desperately need to both improve achievement for all and increase equity for children and communities who have been historically underserved,” Duncan said. “Technology offers children the opportunity to work at their own pace, pursue their own interests and passions, and provides access to more information through a cell phone than I could find as a child in an entire library.”
Duncan highlighted several federal initiatives to support the use of technology in education, including a Learning Registry to help teachers and parents discover resources online, competitive funding programs like Race to the Top that make technology a priority, and the expansion of broadband to thousands of communities in an effort to connect them all by 2015.
Duncan said that technology is replacing paper and pencil, textbooks, chalkboards, and the globe in classrooms around the country and will soon replace the bubble test on which many local accountability systems are based. At the same time, however, Duncan stressed that technology will never replace teachers.
“This issue too often gets sidetracked into a silly debate over whether we need computers or teachers-when everyone knows we need both,” Duncan said. “Great teachers with access to great technology transform children’s life choices.”
Duncan’s complete speech is available at