Practice. The goal is to build large and
sustainable online communities that
will allow teachers to share practices,
access experts, and solve problems.
For technology to be truly transformative, it needs to be accessible to
everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not the
case today, especially in rural areas,
in low-income urban neighborhoods,
and for students who have disabilities.
The Obama administration has made
a significant investment in expanding
broadband to areas without access to
high-speed internet. President Obama
has set the goal of ensuring that 98%
of the country has available broadband
in the next five years. With $7.2 billion
from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the U.S. Department
of Agriculture, the Department of
Commerce, and the Federal Communications Commission are financing
the construction of broadband networks into unserved areas. These dollars will provide high-speed internet in
thousands of schools. In addition, the
FCC has changed the E-Rate program
to support innovative approaches that
expand the reach of schools’ networks.
Schools are now allowed to use E-Rate
funds to provide access during after-school hours, and a pilot program will
test the use of wireless networks that
students can access in their homes.
These are essential investments for
closing the digital divide, which would
otherwise make the transformation
to a digital classroom impossible in
many of our communities.
All of these investments will help the
transition from a predominantly print-based classroom to a digital learning
environment. But using technology is
not an end in itself. The ultimate goal
is to vastly improve the opportunity
to learn, accelerate achievement, and
prepare students for success in the 21st
century workforce. The ability to work,
innovate, and be productive using
technology is essential for professionals in almost every sector. Doctors and
auto mechanics, architects and artists,
engineers and teachers—these and just
about every other profession will need
workers who can harness the power of
technology. For children to excel, we
have to prepare them today.
We do so by unleashing the untapped
potential of learning technology—
with your commitment, passion,
Arne Duncan is the U.S. secre- tary of education. Prior to his appointment, Duncan served as the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools from June 2001 through De- cember 2008.
Read ISTE’s response to Duncan’s article
on page 14. Post your comments about
this piece on the ISTE Community Ning