Experts from across the education and technology fields launched the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission earlier in March. The commission aims to outline new ways to use digital technology as a catalyst for education reform and will draw input from teachers, parents, students, and local government to create a “blueprint for action” to be released later this year.
The commission will be advised by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, whose roles are to help support the leadership and mission of the commission and provide any input and guidance needed. The LEAD Commission is also co-chaired by four members: Columbia University President Lee Bollinger; TPG Capital Co-Founder James Coulter; former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Common Sense Media’s founder and CEO, Jim Steyer.
The goals of the new commission are vast and far-reaching, but integral to education reform nonetheless. One of the main pillars behind its mission is to develop a fact base of current efforts, trends, cost implications, and obstacles impeding schools in adopting existing technologies. The LEAD Commission also aims to examine how digital literacy education has been a facilitator of improvement in other fields and harness these same techniques to positively steer the future of teaching and learning. The commission then hopes to recommend the kinds of policies and funding vehicles necessary to ensure that these new technologies can successfully be implemented in school systems across the country.
According to LEAD co-commissioner Jim Steyer, the goals of the commission are necessary to improve the ways in which students learn and the ability of school officials to facilitate this process. “It is no secret that our education system desperately needs fundamental reform,” said Steyer. “The great news is that technology provides us with an opportunity to leapfrog decades of simply maintaining the status quo and to truly revolutionize education in this country quickly, which is exactly what’s needed to remain economically competitive in today’s global economy. By bringing together stakeholders who want to get this right, we have an enormous opportunity to reshape education for the 21st century in America.”
The LEAD Commission was formed as a response to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan released in November 2010 and the FCC’s national Broadband Plan released in March of the same year, as well as the Obama Administration’s general push for more comprehensive digital literacy in schools.
Education Secretary Duncan recently stressed the importance of incorporating digital media into U.S. school systems and said, “It’s no exaggeration to say that technology is the new platform for learning. Technology isn’t an option that schools may or may not choose for their kids. Technological competency is a requirement for entry into the global economy – and the faster we embrace it – the more we maintain and secure our economic leadership in the 21st century.”