Riding on Connectivism: The ConnectED Initiative

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As part of the US Government’s plan to reform its school systems, President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative in June 2013, an initiative designed to enrich K-12 education in America. ConnectED aims to empower teachers and students by giving them the most relevant instructional technology and trainings to make the most of them, empowering the teaching and learning process through individualized instruction and rich digital content.

Such initiative seems to promote connected learning by thriving on the theory of connectivism and networked pedagogical approaches. The following outlines how ConnectED works (drawn from WhiteHouse.gov):

Upgrading Connectivity

The ConnectED initiative will, within five years, connect 99 percent of America’s students to next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless in their schools and libraries. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon are already providing their support, collectively pledging to connect more than 20 million more students over the next two years.

ConnectED will also provide better broadband access for students in rural areas, by expanding successful efforts to connect parts of the country that typically have trouble attracting investment in broadband infrastructure.

Training Teachers

Our teachers need better tools to help them succeed – and technology can play a central role. For example, new digital education tools can allow for real-time assessments of student learning, provide faster feedback to drive professional development, and enable the creation of interactive online lessons, helping teachers understand each student’s strengths and weaknesses and design lessons and activities to better meet their needs.

ConnectED invests in improving the skills of teachers, ensuring that every educator in America receives support and training in using education technology tools that can improve student learning. ConnectED will also lead to new resources for teachers from any school to open their classrooms to interactive demonstrations and lessons from world-renowned experts, and to collaborate with other educators worldwide.

Encouraging Private-Sector Innovation

Educational devices supported by high-speed networks are the portal to the world of online learning and interactive content, to personalized software that adapts to students’ needs, and to breakthroughs in assessing understanding and mastery. These devices give students access to more rigorous and engaging classes, new learning resources, rich visualizations of complex concepts, and instruction in any foreign language. They also allow students to work more at their own speed and receive additional one-on-one help.

Leading technology companies can produce feature-rich educational devices that are price-competitive with basic textbooks. And a robust market in educational software can unlock the full educational potential of broadband investment, while creating American jobs and export opportunities in a global education marketplace of more than $1 trillion.

In February 2014, the president announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will invest $2 billion over the next two years to dramatically expand high-speed Internet connectivity for America’s schools and libraries — connecting 20 million more students to next-generation broadband and wireless.

Private-sector companies have also committed more than $2 billion to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms.

All politics aside, I think this is a step forward in the education industry and students are likely to gain more out of their schooling experience with such initiative.

What do you think? Share your thoughts here!

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