In his weekly Youtube.com video address, President elect Barack Obama announced that he is planning, as part of his economic recovery plan, to “put new computers in our classrooms”, give every child “the chance to get online”, to enable our students to “compete in the 21st century (global) economy”.
This is encouraging to those of us in education who believe that “21st century schools” must expand the traditional curriculum develop students’ ability to critically analyze and communicate in new forms of media — the same tools that the president-elect himself is using to communicate with the American people . All of these ways of communicating are available for free to our students if teachers have the equipement, know how to access them, and have the support to integrate them into their curricula. Connected computers provide teachers with access to those media, and opportunities for students to communicate and collaborate with their global peers as they will be called on to do in today’s job market (and as they can using [your] interactive school websites!)
However, as many schools have learned over the past decade, adding technology to a school building is only the first step in transforming learning environments to address the changing needs of our students. To successfully utilize technology to provide meaningful learning experiences that teach 21st century skills while enhancing the traditional curriculum will require teacher training, curriculum development, tech support and computer maintenance. It will be interesting to see how this is addressed by Obama and his new Secretary of Education.
I’ll be watching closely for how this plan takes shape, and offering my ideas through the education page at Change.gov, the administrations website, where they invite the input from “the people” in the spirit of democracy — but a democracy that requires some 21st Century Skills for participation! 😉
 FYI — this administration already looking pretty “21st Century”: Change.gov has an active blog, is offering all meeting documents to the public, and inviting feedback through the web, and Obama is posting weekly video addresses on the web (using Youtube.com, which incidentally is blocked by the NYCDOE!)