Supporting Educators to Innovate Through Technology

OpportunityTechnology offers extraordinary opportunities and capacities to teachers. The breadth and depth of educational materials and information available on the Internet can break boundaries, making any subject accessible anywhere, and providing students with access to experts from across town or across the globe. New technologies also give teachers tools and flexibility to engage students, personalize the learning experience, and share resources or best practices with colleagues.

President Obama’s ConnectED initiative aims to provide high-speed Internet to every school in America, and make affordable computers, tablets, software, and other digital resources widely available to educators. Yet innovative technologies offer their greatest benefits only when teachers and principals have the skills and supports to leverage them. The ConnectEDucators plan will help educators to grow those skills. Watch this video to learn more:

Tiffany Taber is senior communications manager in the Office of Communications and Outreach

The White House Hosts Its First-Ever Student Film Festival

Film Fest

President Barack Obama speaks with students in the State Dining Room prior to the White House Student Film Festival in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

Back in November, we asked K-12 students across the country to create short films on the role that technology plays in their classrooms. We asked them to tell us why technology is so important, and how it will change the educational experience for kids in the future.

And they responded with nearly 3,000 films.

Today, in collaboration with the American Film Institute, we hosted more than a dozen of the young filmmakers at the first-ever White House Student Film Festival, where we presented our 16 official selections. Special guests included Kal Penn, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, along with Conan O’Brien who addressed the students by video.

To kick things off, President Obama addressed the attendees and told the young filmmakers how great their movies were:

[I]n my official capacity as President, let me just say these movies are awesome. Like all great movies, yours do something special — they tell a story. They help us understand, in this case, the amazing things that are going on in classrooms and how technology is empowering our students and broadening their imaginations and challenging them to dream bigger and reach further.

The President also talked briefly about his ConnectED initiative, which aims to connect 99 percent of America’s students to next-generation, high-speed Internet over the next five years. He announced $400 million in new commitments from Adobe and Prezi to make free software available to teachers and students, helping introduce creative learning materials to America’s classrooms. Coupled with the $750 million in commitments that the President announced earlier this month, private-sector leaders have pledged – in February alone – to invest more than $1 billion in America’s students.

Read his full remarks here.

Lights, camera, action!

If you missed the livestream of the event, don’t worry – the film festival’s official selections, as well as the videos that received honorable mentions, are below for your viewing pleasure:

OFFICIAL SELECTIONS:

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

New Guidance: Tech and Protecting Student Data

Today, more than ever, schools and districts are managing a lot of digital data. Some of that has to do with teaching and learning, but there’s plenty more: from bus routes, to food service records, to enrollment and attendance information. Districts and schools are working to be more efficient and smarter about storing and using data. Many have chosen to move data “in the cloud,” meaning off-site data centers that securely store information.

PTAC VideoThis advancement in data storage has created some important and reasonable questions about what steps are being taken to insure that student data is kept secure and private. In a speech yesterday at the Common Sense Media Privacy Zone Conference, in Washington, D.C., Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reaffirmed that school systems “owe families the highest standard of security and privacy.”

What I want to say to you today is that the benefits for students of technological advancement can’t be a trade-off with the security and privacy of our children.

We must provide our schools, teachers and students cutting-edge learning tools. And we must protect our children’s privacy. We can and must accomplish both goals – but we will have to get smarter to do it.

Duncan noted that many school systems are showing leadership on the privacy front, such as the Kansas State Department of Education, which has developed an innovative data quality certification program to train staff on data quality practices and techniques, including privacy and security.

Read Secretary Duncan’s speech – Technology in Education: Privacy and Progress

In a panel following the speech, Acting Deputy Education Sec. Jim Shelton talked with Julie Brill of the Federal Trade Commission about further actions the federal government can take to protect student privacy in education, floating the possibility of joint efforts between the two agencies.

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) released new guidance to help school systems and educators interpret and understand the major laws and best practices protecting student privacy while using online educational services. The guidance addresses a range of concerns regarding the security and privacy of student data.

Click here to read the new guidance.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education

Of the People: Live from a Digital Classroom with Education Secretary Arne Duncan

school_racetotop_PS-0042

President Barack Obama and Sec. of Education Arne Duncan, right, take questions during a group discussion with 6th grade students at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, VA. January 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

On February 26, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will participate in Discovery Education and the White House’s “Of the People” webinar series. This special event is part of the second annual Future@Now forum to discuss the transition from traditional classrooms to digital classrooms.

You can register now to watch the event live on Wednesday, February 26 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Joining from a classroom in Washington, D.C., Secretary Duncan will explore the digital transition firsthand and answer questions from a student about how the Department of Education supports classrooms around the country and why education is the foundation of our country’s future success.

The “Of the People” series offers middle and high school students unique access to White House staff and Obama Administration officials in a series of 30-minute virtual events broadcast live from the White House and open to all classrooms nationwide.

You can tune in on February 26 at 4:30 p.m. ET – and watch upcoming installments in this series — on Discovery Education’s website. In the coming months, webinars will address topics that range from community service to climate change and from foreign policy to science and technology. A complete archive of all virtual field trip sessions will be available at www.discoveryeducation.com.

Kori Schulman is director of online engagement for the White House Office of Digital Strategy.

Making Progress on ConnectED

connected graphicCross-posted from the White House Blog

Today, President Obama visited Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland to announce major progress on the ConnectED initiative, designed to enrich K-12 education for every student in America. ConnectED empowers teachers with the best technology and the training to make the most of it, and empowers students through individualized learning and rich, digital content.

Preparing America’s students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete with countries around the world relies increasingly on interactive, personalized learning experiences driven by new technology. Yet fewer than 30% of America’s schools have the broadband they need to connect to today’s technology. Under ConnectED, however, 99% of American students will have access to next-generation broadband by 2017. That connectivity will help transform the classroom experience for all students, regardless of income.

As the President announced today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will invest $2 billion over the next two years to dramatically expand high-speed Internet connectivity for America’s schools and libraries — connecting more than 20 million students to next-generation broadband and wireless. He also announced that private-sector companies have committed more than $750 million to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms, including:

  • Apple, which will donate $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, and other products, along with content and professional development tools to enrich learning in disadvantaged U.S. schools
  • AT&T, which pledged more than $100 million to give middle school students free Internet connectivity for educational devices over their wireless network for three years
  • Autodesk, which pledged to make their 3D design program “Design the Future” available for free in every secondary school in the U.S. — more than $250 million in value
  • Microsoft, which will launch a substantial affordability program open to all U.S. public schools by deeply discounting the price of its Windows operating system, which will decrease the price of Windows-based devices
  • O’Reilly Media, which is partnering with Safari Books Online to make more than $100 million in educational content and tools available for free to every school in the U.S.
  • Sprint, which will offer free wireless service for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over the next four years, valued at $100 million
  • Verizon, which announced a multi-year program to support ConnectED through up to $100 million in cash and in-kind commitments

For more information on how ConnectED works, click here.

David Hudson is Associate Director of Content in the Office of Digital Strategy.

Education Datapalooza

Duncan at Education DatapaloozaYesterday I participated in an Education Datapalooza hosted by the White House and U.S. Department of Education.  More than 600 people packed into an auditorium to discuss innovation in higher education—and what I heard and saw makes me excited for the future! The gathering was a response to President Obama’s call this past August to improve value and affordability in postsecondary education, in which he outlined an ambitious plan that included a major focus on innovation.  As part of his call to action, the President and the First Lady are speaking today about the importance of ensuring that every child, rich or poor, has the opportunity to access a quality college education.

At the Education Datapalooza, we gathered to celebrate innovative products, apps, websites, and other tools to help students get to and through postsecondary education. Many of the tools help students and families navigate the college choice and selection process. Others focus on improving teaching and learning, especially in ways that leverage technology to improve online and classroom-based instruction.

Events like this one are exciting because they bring together so many different people from different backgrounds and experiences. The event featured entrepreneurs and software developers, along with researchers in the fields of college access and learning. It also featured students, who taught college guidance counselors how to use the latest mobile apps so that they could refer other students to them, along with policymakers and representatives of non-profits that represent student voices. Video of the day will be posted soon here: www.ed.gov/datapalooza.

Duncan at DatapaloozaPart of Datapalooza was an innovation showcase, at which more than fifty organizations participated by giving live product demonstrations of their tools to empower students and families to make informed decisions about college—and improve teaching and learning. Among the participants were several teams that began developing their tools only a few weeks prior, as part of the Data Jams hosted by the White House and Department of Education to catalyze innovation. I got a chance to walk through the innovation showcase and meet with the entrepreneurs and student advocates who are developing new tools. The energy and excitement in the room was tremendous.

Many of the tools and apps developed, use open data provided by the Department of Education and other federal sources. In the past, even data that was free to the public was often difficult to find and use. Knowing that it is critical to innovation, President Obama signed an Executive Order last May directing agencies to make government-held data more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs. Building on the Executive Order, the Department of Education announced a new public data inventory that went live in December.

And yesterday, we announced our intention to issue a Request for Information (RFI) to gather ideas and feedback on potential development of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) with key education data, programs, and frequently used forms—including the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). APIs offer the potential for developers to interact with these federal resources in new ways, including developing apps or services that benefit students and consumers.

While Datapalooza was the culmination of months of hard work by entrepreneurs and college experts, it is also just the beginning of a wider conversation. In the weeks and months ahead, the Administration will continue outreach to the community seeking to catalyze innovation. We value your input, so please send your ideas to Datapalooza@ed.gov.  We hope to engage those who participated in Datapalooza and others who are committed to promoting opportunity for American students.

Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education

Innovators Come Together to Brainstorm Solutions and Take Action

By Martha Kanter

Over the last week, more than 200 national public and private sector innovators from higher education, technology, and industry joined us at round tables, at white boards, and over large sheets of poster paper to brainstorm creative ideas to improve postsecondary education. These groups of entrepreneurs and software developers, college and university scholars and students, along with policymakers and others identified solutions and made plans to take immediate action.

These individuals came together at two “Data Jams” convened by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Education, the first at MIT on December 11th and the second at Stanford on December 15th. Leaders, experts and students were challenged to use open data and work collaboratively to solve a series of challenges to increase student access and success to reach the President’s goal “for the U.S. to have the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world by the year 2020!”

Specifically, the groups were charged to address the ambitious agenda outlined by President Obama in August 2013 to increase value and affordability in postsecondary education. A key component of this agenda is to promote innovation and competition through the use of data and by using new approaches to tackle old problems.

Participants at our Data Jams announced action steps in many areas:

  • Develop new tools to allow students to make informed decisions about whether to go to college, where to go, what to study, how to finance it, and how to manage student loan debt when out of school;

  • Use data and analytic techniques to improve teaching, learning, and student success in online courses and MOOCs;

  • Build on the experience of faculty and researchers to develop a way to share evidence-based practices, pedagogies, and content for hybrid and online teaching; and

  • Begin a conversation about articulating open data standards and privacy-appropriate sharing of online learning data.

Far from being one-off conversations or developing solutions that sit on shelves, participants left the Data Jams volunteering to take action in the next month to implement the ideas. Some will develop new or expanded websites, products, or tools for students; others will enlist colleagues and friends to advance the work; and still others will take concrete steps in the next few weeks that will lay the foundation for transformational change in the future.

We won’t have long to wait to see the results! Next month, at an Education Datapalooza, in Washington, D.C., the White House and U.S. Department of Education will highlight and celebrate some of the innovations that result from the Data Jams and similar gatherings over the course of the fall in response to President Obama’s call to action.

Want to get involved? Many of the teams assembled to prepare for the Datapalooza are working hard and can use the help of others who have time, expertise, or other resources to lend to the effort. Email us at Datapalooza@ed.gov if you want to get involved.

We would like to thank our partners at edX, the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University, and Stanford University for co-hosting the December Data Jams and to each of the participants who gave their time and wisdom to advancing this work.

The choices students and their families face with regard to postsecondary education are complex, and data-driven tools can help simplify the pathways to a quality education and help to improve student outcomes. Federal government data resources should be leveraged to help students and their families better understand the federal financial aid available to them and all of the information that is key to expanding access and enrollment among low-income and first-generation households. It critical to our nation’s long term civic and economic prosperity that we continue to help students from all backgrounds achieve an affordable postsecondary education.

We know that the best solutions to these problems rarely come from the federal government and that local and regional innovative approaches have the potential to help us increase access, value, and affordability in postsecondary education. At the Datapalooza next month, we will see just how these innovative approaches are developing to benefit educational opportunity for all!

Martha Kanter is the U.S. Under Secretary of Education

Celebrating Connected Educator Month 2013


Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

In support of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology is proud to announce that October is Connected Educator Month. Throughout the month, educators will have opportunities to participate in online events, build personal learning networks, and earn digital badges by demonstrating technology skills.

Online communities help educators share effective strategies, reduce isolation, and provide “just in time” access to knowledge and expertise. However, many educators are not yet taking advantage of all the benefits of connected learning. Schools, districts, and states can dramatically enhance their professional development by integrating digital learning opportunities into their formal professional development and teacher quality efforts.

“One of the most important things we can do to support teachers and students is to put modern tools in their hands, and give them access to the limitless knowledge and connections that the Internet makes possible,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “That’s why President Obama has made a priority of getting our schools connected to high-speed broadband, and it’s also why I’m so enthusiastic about Connected Educator Month.”

Nearly 200 educational organizations are participating in Connected Educator Month. These organizations will provide a variety of interactive activities, such as webinars, live chats, open houses, contests, projects, and badges for connected educators to earn.

Activities and events will range from a design challenge, in which educators will develop strategies for helping kids develop creative confidence, to a webinar in which five U.S. organizations will team up with UNESCO to share insights about mobile learning around the globe. State and locally focused activities will also engage communities of educators across the nation.

“Connected Educator Month provides an opportunity for all educators across the country to join a vibrant community of teachers and leaders using technology to reimagine learning,” said Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Educational Technology.

Connected Educator Month events can be found at www.ConnectedEducators.org/events. The site will be updated continually to reflect new activities, as they are added throughout the month. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter using the #CE13 hashtag.

For more information about Connected Educator Month, visit http://www.ConnectedEducators.org.

Back-to-School Tour Launches in the Land of Enchantment

Duncan speaks with child

Secretary Arne Duncan kicked off his annual back-to-school bus tour in New Mexico. Official Department of Education photo by Joshua Hoover.

Santa Fe, N.M., is a testament to our country’s diversity and beauty. That’s where Secretary of Education Arne Duncan launched his fourth annual back-to-school bus tour yesterday morning. This year’s tour, themed Strong Start, Bright Future, runs September 9-13 and includes visits to New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California.

Each stop on the tour will highlight the importance of ensuring that all students benefit from high-quality educational opportunities.

See a collection of social media posts about day one of the tour.

Santa Fe

Duncan kicked things off at the Santa Fe Children’s Project Early Learning Center where he spoke with teachers and students during classroom visits and then held a town hall on the importance of quality early learning programs.

Many people come to Santa Fe to see its art, architecture or even a world-famous opera said Joel Boyd, superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools, but “we believe you’re here to see our most precious resource: our children,” he said.

Duncan noted that high-quality early education is the ultimate bipartisan issue, and that the U.S. Department of Education is looking to partner and help states that are willing to do “the right thing.” Learn more about the Obama Administration’s Pre-K For All proposal.

Albuquerque

Following our Santa Fe visit, the back-to-school bus made its way to Emerson Elementary in Albuquerque for a roundtable discussion on the school’s recent turnaround efforts. The school, with just under 500 students, nearly half of whom are English language learners, has made a turnaround that dramatically improved student proficiency in math and reading.

During the discussion, Duncan listened to administrators, teachers and students on what is working to turn the school around. He also praised the district and the local teachers union for their collaboration and courage.

Polvadera

Day one closed out at Midway Elementary School in Polvadera, a small community just north of Socorro, N.M. Duncan highlighted the Obama Administration’s ConnectED proposal to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the Internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within five years. One of the teachers at the town hall expressed frustration she felt in the past because her class in previous years had only one computer for more than 20 students.

In the video below, Duncan also talks about one of the students at the town hall who challenged him, and said she wasn’t receiving enough support. Duncan said that we have to be doing more to support our students.

Today the tour takes Duncan to El Paso, Texas, and Columbus, N.M.

Watch Secretary Duncan wrap up his experiences from day one:


Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy and is blogging and tweeting his way from the bus during ED’s annual back-to-school bus tour.

Getting a Strong Start in New Mexico

Last month we announced the Strong Start, Bright Future annual back-to-school bus tour and today we’re happy to announce the details of the tour’s first two days. Drum roll please!

Santa Fe

Strong Start LogoOn Monday, September 9, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will kick things off at the Santa Fe Children’s Project Early Learning Center with classroom visits and a town hall on the importance of quality early learning programs.

Albuquerque

Following the town hall, the bus will roll south through the “Land of Enchantment” for classroom visits and a roundtable discussion with district and labor leaders, teachers, parents and students at Emerson Elementary in Albuquerque. The focus at Emerson will be their turnaround efforts and Duncan will discuss the Department’s School Improvement Program.

Polvadera

The back-to-school bus will continue to the Rio Grande Valley Monday afternoon for a classroom discussion with teachers at Midway Elementary School in Polvadera, N.M., north of Socorro. Duncan will discuss digital learning and hold a community meeting on rural education at the school.

Day Two

El Paso

Day two of the Strong Start, Bright Future tour will get its start at the El Paso Transmountain Early College High School (Home of the Mavericks!) in El Paso, Texas, where Secretary Duncan will join a town hall on STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The high school is located adjacent to El Paso Community College and by the time students graduate from high school, they’re already earning college credits. This is the type of great collaboration the Department of Education is calling for in its high school redesign initiative.

Columbus

On Tuesday afternoon, the bus will cruise back into New Mexico and make a stop at Columbus Elementary School where Duncan and Department officials will listen to teachers talk about the challenges of teaching a diverse student population.

Following Columbus the bus keeps moving, and in the coming days we’ll provide details of our stops in Arizona and California.

For now, stay up to date by following the Strong Start, Bright Future tour on Twitter using the hashtag #edtour13, visit our bus tour page at ed.gov/bustour and subscribe to Strong Start, Bright Future email updates.

 Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education

A Better Bargain: Education

President Obama named education as one of the cornerstones of middle-class security in a speech today at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

The President laid out a vision for what our country needs to do to rebuild that foundation – including in education. “The days when the wages for a worker with a high-school degree could keep pace with the earnings of someone who got some higher education are over,” he said.

President Obama said that our country needs to provide an education “that prepares our children and our workers for the global competition that they’re going to face.”

And if you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century.  If we don’t make this investment, we’re going to put our kids, our workers, and our country at a competitive disadvantage for decades. So we have to begin in the earliest years. 

Preschool For All

I’m going to keep pushing to make high-quality preschool available for every 4-year-old in America.  Not just because we know it works for our kids, but because it provides a vital support system for working parents.

ConnectED

I’m going to take action in the education area to spur innovation that doesn’t require Congress.  Today, for example, as we speak, federal agencies are moving on my plan to connect 99 percent of America’s students to high-speed Internet over the next five years.  We’re making that happen right now. We’ve already begun meeting with business leaders and tech entrepreneurs and innovative educators to identify the best ideas for redesigning our high schools so that they teach the skills required for a high-tech economy.   

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Support Rolls in for ConnectEd

In June, President Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take the steps necessary to build high-speed digital connections to America’s schools and libraries, ensuring that 99 percent of American students can benefit from advances in teaching and learning. Improving our schools’ technology infrastructure—especially in rural and geographically-isolated communities—is necessary to unlock the power of technology to transform learning.

Student with deviceLast Friday, the FCC’s commissioners voted to move forward on the President’s challenge, and since then, a broad, diverse set of leaders from across the country spoke up in support of the FCC’s actions. Here is a collection of several of those statements:

Read President Obama’s statement and Secretary Duncan’s statement.

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee: I fully support the steps the FCC is taking to modernize the E-Rate program so that our schools and libraries can keep up with the digital demands of the 21st century. Expanding the speed of broadband, not just availability, is essential to this endeavor, and the proposed rulemaking will help advance America’s classrooms and libraries. We live in a world where broadband is a necessity, not a luxury, for the next generation to learn and compete.

Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia: By expanding high-speed internet in the nation’s schools and libraries, the federal government can ensure that teachers and students have access to tools that make learning more personalized and more engaging, making it possible for all students to reach their learning destinations.

Communications Workers of America (CWA): Our schools and libraries need much higher capacity networks to enable students to take advantage of the great potential of digital learning and new technological advances. Our goal should be at least 1 gibabit per second capacity to every school in our nation. Today’s FCC action is a good step forward.

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