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Shifting School Culture with Digital Learning to Focus on Learners and Empower Educators

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June 01, 2012 07:13 pm


For the past two years the Alliance has been exploring how high-quality digital learning can help drive improved learning in the education system. One thing we have learned is quite clear—even with the best technology, in the end you still need a great teacher. And when technology is used properly, the teacher becomes even more important. That is what the Alliance’s new report–Culture Shift: Teaching in a Learner-Centered Environment Powered by Digital Learning–is all about: the growing role of teachers and the changes that are taking place as technology and digital learning become more engrained in the education system.

The panel that reacted yesterday to the report’s rollout gave numerous examples of where practice is proving how the teaching culture is making the necessary shift. Yesterday’s panel included:

– Barnett Berry, PhD, Founder and President, Center for Teaching Quality

– Peggy Brookins, Director, Engineering and Management Institute of Technology and National Board Certified Teacher, Forest High School, (Ocala, FL)

– Erin Frew
, Principal, New Tech West High School (Cleveland, OH)

Patrick Ledesma
, School-Based Technology Specialist, Special Education Department Chair, and National Board Certified Teacher, Holmes Middle School (Alexandria, VA)

Another pioneer in developing the concept of a culture shift is National Commission for Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) .

The world is not the same place it was fifty years, five years ago, five months ago, or even five day ago. It is constantly changing and forcing all of us to do things differently. The new global economy requires a different set of skills for workers and a different set of demands on our education system.

If students are going to be successful they must be able to think critically, communicate effectively, collaborate with others, and analyze information while meeting rigorous standards. To help students meet these higher expectations, the nation must move to a learner-centered education system that will require teachers to be facilitators of learning; users of data and assessments; collaborators, contributors, and coaches with peers; and curriculum adapters and designers

This learner-centered system is going to mean different things for teachers, including magnifying their importance to every student. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said it best:

“We need to change society’s views of teaching—from the factory model of yesterday to the professional model of tomorrow—where teachers are revered as thinkers, leaders, and nation-builders. No other profession carries a greater burden for securing our economic future.”

I could not agree more. That is why the Alliance has been focused on teachers and the important role they play in innovation and the effective use of technology in the schools. This new report emphasizes how critical educators are for facilitating students’ learning so that they stay on track for college and career. Digital learning and technology must play a vital part in helping teachers with their new roles.

There are many good and innovative learning tools that can come with the use of technology but in the end it takes a highly effective teacher. Slapping a netbook on top of a textbook will not solve the problem. It is going to take more than that, and it starts with a highly effective teacher working in a different environment than the one which has characterized education for hundreds of years. I hope you will take the time to read Culture Shift, the next piece in the Alliance’s vision for bringing digital technology into the classroom to the benefit of teachers and students alike.

Gear: Teaching & Professional Learning

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