Wireless and Well Prepared
Walden Forum Focuses on Teaching and Technology
The emerging role of technology in the classroom was the focus of Walden Universityís first executive forum held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in November 2007. Co-hosted by Newsweek magazine, the forumís featured panelists included Dr. David Thornburg, director of global operations for The Thornburg Center and a Walden education faculty member; U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who serves on the Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Innovation; Mary Cullinane of Microsoft Corp., and Walter Bender, president of software and content for the One Laptop per Child Foundation. The forum, entitled ďWireless and Well Prepared: The E-mergence of Technology in the Classroom,Ē was moderated by Newsweek technology columnist Steven Levy.
Click here to view the complete webcast of the executive forum, or read an excerpt of the panel discussion below.
The Honorable Amy Klobuchar: One principal has told me that his biggest challenge is teaching the teachers how to teach technology.
The Attain Act actually has provisions in it, of which Iím a co-sponsor, to help to teach teachers how to teach technology. Itís clearly an issue. So as we move forward and think about what we need to do with schools across the country, clearly getting the teachers up to speed is one of our major challenges.
Steven Levy: Thanks. Mary, why donít you tell me about your involvement in this? I mentioned earlier the School of the Future in Philadelphia. My guess is you might want to cite that as an example of how things help.
Mary Cullinane: Sure. In September of 2003, the school district of Philadelphia and Microsoft came together to answer the question, ĎWhat if?í What if a company like Microsoft and a school district like Philadelphia, that hadnít built a new school from the ground up in about 40 years, what would happen if those two types of organizations came together to develop the School of the Future? What would it look like?
And so being a former teacher, I raised my hand and came back East to do that. And so for the past four years what we have been doing is going through a series of essential questions asking what the School of the Future would look like in West Philadelphia.
And we said to ourselves, given all that, how can technology play a role? Because fundamentally technology in and of itself makes no difference. Itís only with the entire support network around it can technology then, and only then, truly help to augment and improve the teaching and learning process. And so thatís why we tried to take a holistic approach. So at the School of the Future, you donít have math class. You donít have English class. You donít have a science class. You have an essential question that incorporates all that content and curriculum into answering and inquiry and figuring out the answer to that question so your content is covered in context.
The School of the Future gives you access to information regardless of time and place. You donít have to be in a chair at a specific time to have a learning experience. With the School of the Future every kid has their own device. Every educator has their own device. With the School of the Future there are no students. There are learners. There are no teachers. There are educators. There isnít a principal. Thereís a chief learner. That is what weíve tried to reinforce with what we were trying to accomplish in that school.
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