The movers and shakers of government, industry and education assembled in Washington last month for a one-day conference on the future of technology and education, reports eSchool News. Intel Visionary Conference attendees discussed issues of funding technology in schools, closing the digital divide, keeping up with professional training and envisioning the future job market.
Tim Magner, director of the Education Dept.'s Office of Educational Technology, a keynote speaker at the conference, emphasized the importance of strategizing for the future.
"Think about the jobs you're doing now-were they around when you were in the fourth grade?" Magner asked. Noting that few participants had job titles that would have made sense a generation ago, Magner said educators are in the strange position of having to prepare students for jobs that don't yet exist or that "we might not even be able to imagine."
Magner talked about how how improved administrative technologies should break down barriers that traditionally have existed between educators and administrators. Administrators and teachers can better assess students performance from a common set of figures. Magner said, and it will be a key to closing the "digital divide" between middle-class students with regular access to technology and working-class students who do not have this degree of access.
Such longitudinal data, Magner said, will show areas of instructional, administrative, and technological infrastructural weakness that can be identified, funded, and solved.
Funding was also an important topic of discussion, especially the importance of building partnerships to aid in project funding.
"These kinds of programs require more than one leader," said panel participant Bruce Montgomery, speaking as the executive director for Michigan's Freedom to Learn initiative, which had supplied laptop computers to nearly 21,000 students across 95 Michigan school districts as of last fall. "We looked at it as a triangle of government leaders, education leaders, and industry leaders working together to ensure that we would have a meaningful program that met our goals.
Don Knezek, chief executive officer of the International Society for Technology in Education, said in his closing speech that industry and educators need to continue to close the gap between middle and working class students, push for digital content and integrating testing to determine educational outcomes.
"No matter where I travel internationally, one thing that every developing nation and developed nation has in common is that they want to use technology to develop their human capital," Knezek said. "So, these important national trends are actually global."