On Friday, delegates to the 2013 National Education Association Representative Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia formally adopted a new policy statement coming out in support of digital learning, while maintaining support for traditional teacher-led education. This is a major step for the nation’s largest teacher organization as this is the first time the NEA has acknowledged the advantages of using computer-based learning models in the classroom.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said:
“In the fast-paced, worldwide, competitive workplace we now live in, we must tackle the equity issues that are keeping some of our students from succeeding—including closing digital gaps in our schools. All students—pre-k through graduate students—need to develop advanced critical thinking skills and master new digital tools, while adapting to the ever-changing digital information landscape. NEA embraces this new environment and these new technologies to better prepare our students for college and for 21st century careers.”
Van Roekel acknowledged that digitally-driven academic resources would improve student learning opportunities, enhance the quality and effectiveness of instruction, and reduce education inequities.
Back in April, the NEA’s Board of Directors began drafting the policy statement and shifting its previous statements on digital technology learning.
The policy statement stops short of fully embracing all forms of digital-based education or recognizing online curriculum as a stand-alone form of instruction. NEA now accepts hybrid-learning models — a mixed-model of teacher and online instruction — but does not accept online-only coursework as effective without interaction from certified teachers and qualified faculty.
The NEA’s policy statement reinforces the rights of teachers to choose, control, and maintain the digital-learning tools within their classrooms.
The association stresses giving teachers the instructional support to implement digital curriculum in their classrooms. Collaboration with school districts and higher education institutions should also provide effective professional development for how to incorporate digital technology in classes.
Additionally, technology support should reflect students with learning disabilities and English Language Learners.
The NEA also made provisions to mandate that teachers who create online or digital media curriculum must completely own the copyright to the work, though it should be accessible to other teachers and faculty.
In addition, the NEA believes the original works should be subject to a “teacher’s exception” to the “works made for hire” guidelines, and any other copyright issues should be resolved between employers and education professionals through collective bargaining or another process of bilateral decision-making.
While this new position from the NEA falls in line with current transformational models to public school curriculum, the organization still upholds the role of the teacher in the classroom. The policy statement makes it clear that teachers cannot be replaced and that “optimal learning environments should neither be totally technology free, nor should they be totally online and devoid of educator and peer interaction.”
“This policy is not about replacing teachers with laptops—that misguided notion shortchanges students…Students need to develop advanced critical thinking and information literacy skills and master new digital tools in order to become self-directed learners,” Van Roekel said.
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I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but good topic.
I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
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I think you need a teacher so you have someone to ask questions but online resources can make it easier to access data without having to go to a library.
This is good news. Combining the benefits of digital learning with existing human teachers could be very advantageous in relieving overcrowded schools. Imagine the power of a good teacher using computers to administer a personalized curriculum and testing. The variety and speed of learning would be enhanced and could be more effectively tailored to individual needs rather than hardwired methods and standardized material.
"The NEA’s policy statement reinforces the rights of teachers to choose, control, and maintain the digital-learning tools within their classrooms." It's important that these teachers be very proficient with using the new technology. I'm sure the first thing the average student will do is mess with these resources.
I remember being in the computer lab as an elementary school student and just going on Kid Pix or this Bug Adventure game. These policies certainly need to be implemented without these distractions, especially at the younger age levels. The question is, can we develop a system that not only teaches privacy structure but keeps the kids interested?
I also remember my professors being the least tech-savvy people on the planet. Opening a link on powerpoint was painful to watch. Tech-ucation needs to start with the faculty first.
In December Scientific American Mind did a feature article about the evolution of schooling...in Vancouver children are given daily meditation and mindfulness training, which has boosted scores schoolwide. Elsewhere private and charter schools are experimenting with online homework, where the basics are taught at home instead of in school, and the deepening of that knowledge happens in the classroom instead of at home. A much more effective formula that ensures the most complicated work is not done by at home tutors but by the teacher themselves. DOWN WITH "SAGE ON A STAGE!" It only really works for one type of brain.
Technology integration really needs to be well thought-out or it'll just get in the way. However, tech can be the equalizer in education. Like with online voting/registration, I think tech in schools is inevitable so it's good to see the NEA actually think about how it'll be implemented.
I don't believe there will ever be any innovation that can replace the need for teachers. Even if they were to make AI so advance, robots could teach classes. There is more to the role of a teacher than just providing students with information they need to enhance their education. Great article, Kelly!
Great point. Effective implementation of tech into schools is going to require a lot of teacher training, to make sure teachers know the ins and outs of new gadgets as well as their students do.
Cool observation Charlotte (though I thought you wrote "daily medication," lol)! I will say however, I use to believe that home schooling couldn't be effective, but I like a model that mixes small homeschooling groups, kind of like what you see with summer reading clubs, with some traditional classroom instruction.
I must say, I can't stand the traditional 8 hour day school instruction. It feels like prison. No windows in the classrooms, being told when you can go to the bathroom, when you can eat, when you can leave, it's crazy. I think you could drastically cut the overhead of the nation's public schools by implementing some of these new models. I have personally gotten a lot more education just watching the History Channel, touring historic homes, monuments and other sites and doing some independent reading. Over the last few years, I have effectively re-educated myself. So, there is something to say about alternative learning methods.
A comprehensive, cohesive tech plan that includes everything from software, hardware and content management is so important. Just like smartphone users have "app overload," public schools don't need to get caught up in becoming education tech "guinea pigs" for experimenting in digital learning. I hope public schools remember that as they implement school reform.
Thanks Shawn! Yes, teachers bring life experience, personality and a physical presence that a computer still cannot replicate. I believe what digital learning does is transforms how educators reach students, as well as who they can reach. Online learning can be a great equalizer for student access.
I experienced some of this as well. I learned much more after I graduated uni, and really began to experience things out in the world. Taught myself languages, programming, went to tech school and took apprenticeships, read encyclopedia and historical texts for kicks...
But yeah... You won't get the "educational elite", --and these are.. teachers, school administrators, unions, etc.. the group that make the most money out of "education" while continuing to stress how it should "be available to everyone"... I mean of course, as a salesman, I want my product in everyone's hands--.. to admit that the mind can expand and absorb much more when not bound to the traditional classroom and teacher (who along with "life experience, personality, and physical presence" also bring, confirmation bias, an agenda and a set of priorities that likely, the student isn't at the top of), because it is rarely actually ever about accessible information for everyone. (This is what the internet has brought us.) It is about the "educators" making bank. They want to be able to shape you, and your children, to view everything through their lens.. and they want to get paid royally for it too.
Btw, since the crash in San Fran is still fresh.. keep in mind the next time you take a plane flight, that a whining, protesting, kindergarten teacher makes more than the aeronautical mechanic that worked on your plane. Enjoy!