Magazine article The Catalyst

Technology Education Essential for Future STEM Workforce

Magazine article The Catalyst

Technology Education Essential for Future STEM Workforce

Article excerpt

Digital device learning, often called 1 -to-1 computing or a "smart classroom," is not some faraway abstraction or revolutionary concept in education. In fact, thanks to grants and state-subsidized funding, an increasing number of school districts nationwide are securing electronic devices such as personal computers, remote accessible software and even handheld tablets for their students from such electronic giants as HewlettPackard and Lenovo. Proponents for digital device learning assert that greater access to advancing technology within the education system allows teachers to more fluidly support and satisfy Common Core state standards through engaging digital curriculum, interactive supports and assessments, and an enhanced learning environment for their students.

For example, Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit authorized by Congress in 2008, seeks to ignite innovation in education. Alongside Verizon, Digital Promise recently partnered with eight U.S. middle schools to equip students with 1:1 digital devices, granting them access to mobile learning technology in the classroom and within the home, while providing educators with personalized professional development assistance.

The process will be fully documented via an online guidebook so others may learn and grow from the schools' experiences as they transition into a digital learning environment. With a chief goal to close the digital learning gap, this initiative hopes to turn into a national community of practice.

WHAT TECHNOLOGY LEARNING MEANS FOR TEACHERS

While lack of funding and device scarcity is an obvious barrier to making digital device learning universal, another issue linked to this digital divide is lack of teacher education and a fundamental understanding of how they can utilize these resources to implement curriculums and assess outcomes. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a great part of the U.S. education workforce is comprised of individuals whose median age is 45 years. This particular demographic did not observe technology learning in their own schoolings, and digital device learning is not yet a principal theme within graduate or accreditation programs for the forthcoming generation of teachers to adopt.

Ultimately, the technical knowledge required of teachers to fully benefit from digital device learning must be introduced and promoted by school principals and administrators, through intensives and tutorials, workshops and similar job training programs. A great example of this can be taken from the Baldwin County Public School District in Alabama, which has created a Digital Renaissance Leadership Academy for teachers, wherein seven teachers from each school take part in weekly professional development sessions and work with online coaches to improve their skillset. …

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