With iPads making their way into kindergarten classrooms from Maine to Tennessee, it may seem like a given that American education is embracing technology for the rising generation.
But technology’s presence – and effectiveness – varies widely. Just 40 percent of teachers reported that they or their students use computers often during instructional time in a 2010 report by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Organizers of Wednesday’s first-ever national Digital Learning Day hope it will inspire more educators, students, and parents to harness new technologies to enhance young people’s enthusiasm for learning and help them master key 21st-century skills.
“It is time we stop asking students to ‘power down’ when they go to school and instead to ‘power up’ and use their interest in technology as a new way to learn,” says Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that spearheaded Wednesday’s events.
Thirty-nine states, 15,000 teachers, and 1.7 million students are expected to participate in a series of events and webcasts, including a live national town-hall meeting at 1 p.m., Eastern time, featuring US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.
During the town hall, schools from Colorado to New Jersey connected via Skype to talk about how they’ve improved student achievement through comprehensive plans to integrate digital learning tools and train teachers to make the best use of them.