“Our country has pioneered manned space travel and the creation of the Internet. Yet today, our country is lagging behind other countries in leveraging the power of technology in our classrooms,” said Secretary Duncan Friday at the White House launch of a new congressionally created education nonprofit, Digital Promise.
When I think about the groundswell of creativity, intelligence, and talent that makes up America’s teaching corps, the very thought is overwhelming.
As teachers, many of us struggle to provide the digital technology training that will prepare our students for a globalized world. I am thrilled to see that innovation in education, including digital learning, is a clear priority for this administration. In fact, with the American Jobs Act, President Obama has proposed $25 billion to modernize at least 35,000 of our neediest schools, and will provide essential upgrades to bring many of America’s school buildings into the 21st century.
Digital Promise, which is the brainchild of a passionate group of educators, entrepreneurs, researchers, and technology companies, is committed to working on three key challenges: (1) identifying innovative technologies in education software; (2) learning faster what works and what doesn’t; and (3) generating demand that drives innovation in the private sector.
At Friday’s launch, I watched the genesis of what is one of the most stirring responses to that problem. As a teacher, I was especially excited to witness entrepreneurs and private sector companies rally behind the education cause with such enthusiasm. As a high school social studies teacher, I am especially glad to see what digital technology can do to help our students access a world-class curriculum, one of this administration’s priorities.
“Digital learning changed me forever,” said Josniel Martinez, an 11 year-old middle schooler from Global Tech High School in East Harlem, New York, who introduced Secretary Duncan at the White House event. Last year, he received a “Promotion in Doubt” letter stating that he was at risk of not passing to the next grade due to poor academic performance. His mother pushed him to use a digital learning program three times a week and in a short time, this young man had completely turned his grades around. At once, his academic growth was tangible and he is beginning to set long-term academic goals for himself.
As a Teaching Ambassador Fellow, I have had the opportunity to observe numerous exciting initiatives at ED and Digital Promise is one I am going to keep my eye on.
Claire Jellinek is a 9th-12th grade social studies teacher at South Valley Academy in Albuquerque, NM and a 2011-2012 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow.