Education tech highlighted in three nations

The growing importance of technology in education was clearly evident in three different countries over the past few months.

In November 2010 the U.S Department of Education released its National Education Technology Plan Learning Powered by Technology

John Kershaw

The plan was led by Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology. Cator is well versed in learning and technology having previously worked with Apple’s education group and as a previous chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills ( Cator’s plan is inspiring and echoes her core belief that positioning America for success in the global knowledge economy calls for the integration of technology with learning to enable the nation’s youth to be equipped with 21st Century skills.

Now the Obama administration must breathe life into the plan through advocacy and concrete investments. We trust P21 members will be vocally supporting the plan.

In September 2010 the Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC) publicly committed its provincial and territorial members to collaborate in the pursuit of 21st Century learning models. Canadians will be anticipating some tangible action and a CMEC vision for technology in education similar to Cator’s efforts in the United States would certainly demonstrate the kind of leadership required.

In December 2010 the Premier’s Technology Council (PTC) in British Columbia released a Vision for 21st Century Education. PTC report calls for public education to be transformed to position the province for success in the knowledge economy and consistently references the critical role of technology in learning. With the shifting political scene in B.C. it will be interesting to see how the government responds.

New Brunswick’s new government took an important step in embracing a 21st Century learning vision by rolling out a number of model schools to showcase the link between learning and technology. Providing schools with enhanced levels of technology to personalize learning and transform instructional practices are critical elements of that province’s 21st Century learning vision.  

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean the BETT Show was held in London, England January 11-14, 2011 at London’s Olympia Stadium. The show boasted over 600 exhibitors from the international education technology sector and attracted thousands of delegates. Exhibitors were comprised of easily recognizable international corporations to fledging new entrepreneurs. The event was certainly a testament to the expanding and diversified role of technology in public education. Two companies using social media to engage parents and educators in vetting internet resources and YouTube videos and create safe e-libraries for students were two of the nuggets gleaned from the show.

Networking opportunities at the BETT Show are always a key attraction. Notable attendees included the Honourable Patrick Rouble, Minister of Education for the Yukon who led a CMEC delegation to the event, reflecting CMEC’s new focus on exploring 21st Century learning models.  The show also attracted Charles Fadel, Global Lead for Education at Cisco Systems; the Cisco board member at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills; and author of 21st Century Skills. Kathy Hurley, Senior Vice President at Pearson Publishing and another former chair of P21 in the United States was also in attendance.

While in London Microsoft hosted its annual Education Leader’s Briefing where invited guests listened to a number of inspiring 21st Century education leaders. In attendance was Bruce Dixon, a highly regarded advocate of the 1:1 student-computer model and President of the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation in Australia. In an appropriate finale to the evening’s events Microsoft’s global education lead Greg Butler partnered with Karen Cator to share their visions for education and technology and answer questions from the invitees.

 John Kershaw, is co-president of  21st Century Learning Associates

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