Investing in Education Technology to Win the Future

Wouldn’t it be cool if a well-designed videogame could provide a compelling learning environment, grab a student’s attention and teach critical thinking?  Or how about a virtual learning laboratory that would tailor educational material based on student patterns, similar to how Amazon.com and Netflix know that if you like “Sleepless in Seattle” you might also like “You’ve Got Mail?”

By aggressively pursuing new and better ways to educate our citizens, such as the ones above, the United States will be on track to out-innovate the competition and reclaim global leadership in education.

To address under-investment in education innovation, the President’s FY2012 budget proposes to invest $90 million to create an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education (ARPA-ED).  ARPA-ED will fund projects performed by industry, universities, or other innovative organizations, and will aggressively pursue technological breakthroughs that have the potential to transform teaching and learning. These changes have the potential to provide breakthrough technologies, just as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, helped develop the Internet, GPS, and robotics.

Earlier today, Secretary Duncan joined President Obama and Melinda Gates in Boston, Massachusetts to visit TechBoston Academy, and to discuss the shared responsibility of government, communities, businesses, and philanthropists to invest in innovative education approaches that will prepare our students to compete in the 21st century.

“There is no better economic policy than one that produces more graduates,” said President Obama.  “That’s why reforming education is the responsibility of every American – every parent, every teacher, every business leader, every public official, and every student.”

Read more about ARPA-ED and how it will help America regain its standing as the world leader in education by supporting the development of game-changing educational technologies.  Watch President Obama’s entire TechBoston speech, and you can also read more about the President’s FY 2012 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Education.

7 Comments

  1. My company created a free online entrepreneurial education technology that relies on game-play features. It’s proving quite useful both out and in the classroom. More importantly, it’s obviously gaining better interactive interest and participation than traditional book methods of teaching.

    The notion of EDU tech to build the future is entirely correct. If anyone has any ideas on how we can get our tool out to those in need, please shout. (I don’t want to be self promotional, so if you’re truly interested in what we’re doing, search for “bizgym”).

  2. My husband participated in a nuclear engineering conference in Japan while he was getting his Ph.D., and for the first week he met with a group that was developing video games to teach nuclear physics principles. It was a Ph.D. project of a Japanese student in Tokyo. My husband said that he didn’t think the type of game would appeal to the US market, but it would be great if some gaming companies did focus more on adding educational elements to their games. Back in the day, Oregon Trail was a huge hit and taught a lot of history. I think educational games today need to be as action packed as the more popular games.

    Games are fun and might help our children learn some principles, but I think that the increasing online coursework offered by universities is really helping people advance their education. A lot of students who might not attend a 4 year university are considering a degree now that they can get it online. However, I think that there are many for-profit universities that are taking advantage of this group and not giving them the best education, or charging them such high tuition that the degree isn’t actually increasing their standard of living while they are paying their student loans off. It’s important to help people considering an online degree to know what to look for.

  3. I agree, Ryan. I am a second year tech apps teacher in a wonderful high school. I just found out that I will not receive a contract renewal next year (because of massive budget cuts and layoffs of over 100,000 teachers in Texas) but a teacher who teaches scrap booking will get a contract because she has been a teacher for 19 years. I respect her tenure but at this point in time, it’s about not messing with the unions and ruffling feathers. This is not putting the best interest of the students first. I am taking my first year robotics team to a state competition for the first time ever but it has been proven to me that tenure is the most important issue, not education. I’m sorry, but there is no education in scrap booking. Guess my robotics team won’t be going to state next year. Who’s going to explain where I am to my students next year?

  4. “Wouldn’t it be cool if a well-designed videogame could provide a compelling learning environment, grab a student’s attention and teach critical thinking? Or how about a virtual learning laboratory that would tailor educational material based on student patterns, similar to how Amazon.com and Netflix know that if you like “Sleepless in Seattle” you might also like “You’ve Got Mail?”

    Yeah it would be “cool.” Literally millions have spent by private software companies to develop video games that lead to more learning, so far without success. The question we should asking, is this our best use of education funds at a time of huge budget cuts and crisis in our public schools? This reads like a teenager’s blog, not the ideas of educational professionals who should be investing in programs that have been proven to work, like class size reduction.

  5. The only thing that will substantially improve graduation rates and truly engage technology as a vehicle for learning is to get rid of the lock-step, curriculum/standards driven curriculum and let students’ personal interests and their Zone of Proximial Development guide learning.

  6. Technology will shape our youth’s education, however, cutting federal monies will not. By enforcing funding cuts, school districts are using their Reduction-in-Force policies which, in turn, usually keep the teachers with senority, not the young teachers with these technological education experiences.

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