Jennifer Dorman: To the 21st Century and Beyond

From Discovery Educator Jennifer Dorman:

Part 1 of 4
As co-chair of my district’s strategic planning committee on technology, I have been researching the question, “How can technology integration in our schools best prepare our students for the world of the 21st century?”  In my research, I came across several papers written by Dr. Willard R. Daggett from the International Center for Leadership in Education.  The papers I found most enlightening were:
Globalization – Tipping the Scale of Economic Supremacy by Willard R. Daggett and Jerry Pedinotti
Where in the World Is Technology Going? by Willard R. Daggett and Jerry Pedinotti
Achieving Academic Excellence through Rigor and Relevance by Willard R. Daggett
Preparing Students for Their Future by Willard R. Daggett
Technology 2008: Preparing Students for Our Changing World by Willard R. Daggett

Though I will not presume to relay the full body of Dr. Daggett’s extensive research in this blog, I do want to highlight some of the more relevant pieces to the technology leaders that populate DEN.  In “Preparing Students for Their Future” Daggett identifies four mega trends that are impacting education in America: globalization, demographics, technology, and changing values and attitudes.  Part of the data for the globalization trend was unquestionably scary when thinking about the future: “By 2010 it is predicted that 90 percent of all the world’s scientists and engineers will be in Asia.  / In 1975, the United States ranked third in the world in the percentage of its students who received degrees in science and engineering. Today we are 17th in the world.”  Why aren’t American students electing to enroll in highly specialized technology-laden fields?  Could it be that our education system is not adequately preparing and/or motivating students to pursue technical degrees?  More importantly, what will be the ramifications of this trend for our shared future?

Educators could ponder these questions ad infinitum.  Yet, as we ponder, technological advancement is moving forward at full tilt and America is falling farther behind other Eastern European and Asian countries.  Gordon Moore, Intel executive and creator of “Moore’s Theory,” argued that technological capacity would double every eighteen months and the costs would be cut in half every three years.  As Daggett pointed out in “Technology 2008: Preparing Students for Our Changing World,” just look at the evolution of personal computers to see this trend in action.  If you have been following any of Bill Gates’ public appearances in the past few years, you have already heard mention of his derivation of “Moore’s Theory” nicknamed “Gates’ Law”.  Bill Gates contends that the time needed for technological capacity to double was much less than eighteen months; the rate of doubling was more likely nine months.  All one has to do is look at the evolution of personal mp3 players, PDAs, and mobile phones to see the Gates’ Law evidenced.

What do these trends mean for educators?  It means that we need to get on this high-speed technology train or be left stranded on the platform choking on the fumes.  We need our educational system to fit the needs of the worker and citizen of the future. We need to think of it as molding the educational systems and communities around the needs and interests of the students rather than trying to jam the students into our pre-existing mold.  If we want our students to graduate as independent and critical thinkers, innovative inventors, problem solvers, and responsible citizens, we need to model those same traits when we design district strategic plans, allocate resources, and craft curriculum.

To be continued with specific strategies and applications on my DEN blog.

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One Comment;

  1. RJ Stangherlin said:

    I am so impressed with your passion and articulateness not only in this blog, but your remaining three in this series. My husband pointed out to me that a country as small as Italy ranks well ahead of the US in overall education statistics. He is an Italian-American, so Italy is often a point of comparison in our conversations regarding education. Yes, we are losing our edge, but provocative is why? I know that I do not have “the” answer, but I do see a definite trend that disturbs. All too often athletics take precedence over academics in our student populations. The best of the best carry AP and Honors courses and a sport a season. I am not against athletics; been there, done it. But it took second place to academics. Today it is well-nigh impossible to get students to make up tests before or after school because of “practices.” Often students; schedules don’t have study halls. From the best of my students, I hear that practice/games come first. Not an answer, but definitely a symptom.

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