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Transforming Schooling via the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan

Date: June, 2010
Author: Chris Dede
Affiliation: Teachers College Record
Keywords: Government


In his article "Transforming Schooling via the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan", Chris Dede discusses his involvement with the U.S. Department of Education's 2010 National Educational Technology Plan which provides a pathway towards developing a 21st century model of formal education to replace industrial-era schooling. Dede explains how a new structure for education is required in order for American students to be able to compete in the 21st Century knowledge-based global economy. As a member of the 15-person technical working group that helped to develop the draft, Dede attests to the long hours of work that went into developing a comprehensive analysis. This is not a narrow, tactical plan for technology investments that aid industrial-era schooling, "but a strategic vision of a redesigned K-20 formal educational system that leverages current technologies to implement sophisticated learning, teaching, and assessment anyplace and anytime, lifelong and lifewide." (Dede)

According to Dede, in terms of redesigning the formal educational system, the heart of the plan lies in teaching. The benefits of modern technology can support a broader spectrum of roles involving "teaching" beyond the walls of the school. This teaching outside of the school includes parents, museum and library staff, community members, and older peers as "educators" who collaborate with teachers in achieving equity and excellence.

Dede likens this spectrum of teaching responsibilities to the heath care system. While life expectancy has increased remarkably over the past century due to advances in the health care field itself, it is also the various types of public health roles distributed through society that help people learn to embrace wellness behaviors and to lead healthy lifestyles. The public sector's responsibility in the health and well being of its people has had a dramatic effect. We need to think more broadly and technology enables us to do that; as Dede argues: "Applying modern technologies, a comparably distributed system of teaching/learning could complement education in schools with 'educator' roles throughout children's lives." Though distributed education is not a new concept, the National Technology Plan illustrates how we now have the technology capability to fully support and actualize this endeavor.

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