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THE DIGITAL LEARNING IMPERATIVE: New Alliance Report Shows How Digital Learning Connects Technology and Teaching to Meet Today’s Educational Challenges

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“Applying technological tools of real-time data and assessments; adaptive software; online and digital content from many sources; and constant communication with students, parents, and others involved in a student’s education process, the teacher is able to design the pathway that works best for each student to realize his or her maximum learning potential."

Digital learning can connect middle and high school students with better teaching and learning experiences while also addressing three major challenges facing the nation’s education system—access to good teaching, tight budgets, and boosting student achievement—according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education.

“To overcome these obstacles, the nation’s education system cannot continue to conduct business as usual,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Applying technological tools of real-time data and assessments; adaptive software; online and digital content from many sources; and constant communication with students, parents, and others involved in a student’s education process, the teacher is able to design the pathway that works best for each student to realize his or her maximum learning potential.”

“Slapping a netbook on top of a textbook is not enough,” said Wise. “By applying technical tools, teachers can become true educational designers who harness the best pedagogy available to meet the individual needs of their students.”

The report, The Digital Learning Imperative: How Technology and Teaching Meet Today’s Education Challenges, comes one month in advance of the first-ever national Digital Learning Day scheduled for Wednesday, February 1, which is spearheaded by the Alliance.

“In just the last two years,” Wise noted, “many more states, districts, and school leaders are looking for technology solutions and the number of students taking online courses or using mobile devices to learn is soaring. Yet the nation’s education system has made only incremental progress toward ensuring all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career.”

According to the report, which significantly updates and expands on an Alliance brief released in 2010, the United States faces three critical challenges in education:

  1. America’s high schools are not improving fast enough so that all students are graduating college and career ready and able to compete in a rapidly changing world. Presently, the nation cannot meet President Obama’s goals for college completion without dramatically improving the quality of learning in secondary schools.
  2. Continued economic strains on state and local tax bases mean most schools have little hope for new funding sources or increases anytime soon, forcing leaders to rethink how resources are used. State policymakers and education leaders will continue to be challenged with raising student performance amidst tightened budgets.
  3. Many students still do not have access to highly qualified, skilled teachers; the best available teaching strategies that meet their individual needs; or enriching learning experiences.

“Simply put, this report documents that without effective applications of technology, ‘we can’t get there from here,’” said Wise. “Incremental, fragmented progress will no longer meet the needs of students. When paired with effective teaching, personalized learning, and the elements of successful whole-school reform, technology can accelerate the pace of improvement.”

The Digital Learning Imperative highlights how effective educational technology strategies link the “Three Ts”—teaching, technology, and use of time—with overall whole-school reform strategies. Only when the Three Ts are used together can schools be expected to accelerate improvement.

The Alliance will showcase schools and teachers already using technology to improve teaching and learning in a national town hall meeting in Washington, DC during the first-ever national Digital Learning Day on February 1, 2012. Teachers, librarians, principals, administrators, and those who contribute to the learning of students are encouraged to sign up to participate in the day’s activities.

Download The Digital Learning Imperative here

To learn more about Digital Learning Day, visit http://www.digitallearningday.org.

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