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Vicki Phillips, director of Education, College Ready in the United States Program, oversees work to improve early learning in Washington state; to ensure U.S. high school students graduate ready for success[…]

We are seeing students and teachers using technology-enabled tools that make learning more real time, more powerful, and it gives them access to things they wouldn’t have had access to before.

Vicki Phillips: I think we’re just beginning to realize the power of technology in education actually.  And isn’t it interesting that education’s sort of the last profession that technology has transformed.  And I think a lot of that is because we can’t just plop down, you know, new tools into an old system and expect that to work. 

So a lot of where we’re seeing the Internet be the most powerful is in these blended school models where schools are starting to flip their classrooms and use the Internet and technology enabled tools.  Whether that’s videos of experts talking to students or whether it’s students getting online and doing assignments in a collaborative way, answering a really powerful and critical question that their teachers might assign.  Or whether it’s back and forth feedback between kids and teachers.

And this blend of both face-to-face with teachers and technology seems to be a really powerful both motivator for kids but also, you know, the beginning numbers say it gets incredible impact, particularly for students who may have been before lagging behind.  So those collaborative ways to bring kids into ownership of their own learning and to use those tools in ways that kids live and work today are very powerful.

But it’s also proving to be really powerful for teachers so that teachers are also getting online and collaborating with each other and using a number of social networks.  They’re also coming together and co-designing tools that will help them be successful and sharing things that they’ve found that are really effective practice.  And uploading, you know, videos and looking at their own practice and having others critique it and critiquing each other.  So all of those things are just now beginning to take root and materialize in schools.  And I think, you know, some places are further ahead.  I think what’s exciting is in three or four years we’re gonna look back and be amazed at how much that has exploded and  how much teachers have actually driven – and students – that conversation.  But it’s also true that there’s big challenges, right.

Connectivity’s is a big challenge.  Actually having the tool – the hardware tools, the platforms to work from remains a big challenge.  And in education, you know, not a lot of innovators and entrepreneurs are willing to step in and develop those things because we had 50 different states with 50 different standards and different procurement systems and it just made it hard.  And I think there are things happening now like the Common Core State Standards, like this demand on the part of both teachers and students for content delivered in more creative ways to them for both of their learning that you’re starting to see that change because demand is starting to meet up with, you know, sort of those people who’d like to really tackle that in ways that we haven’t experienced before.

What we see happening across the country that we think is actually more of the wave and more powerful is this blended learning environment in which kids and teachers together use technology enabled tools that make the learning more real time, more powerful, give them access to things they wouldn’t have had access to before.  And so we really believe that’s the wave of the future.  So I think we want to keep thinking about the fact that kids really need that opportunity to collaborate with their peers and they’re still gonna need the facilitation and guidance of great teachers.  And so how do you make all those things come together in a really magical and powerful way.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton