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P21-- Skimming the Surface

"Technology is core and essential to the strategies we are using to reform education." That was the message from both Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the United States Department of Education, and Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer in the White House as reported in The Journal. Chopra said that technology in education is less about hardware and software and more about what we teach, the methods we use,and the support and direction we give to teachers. Chopra, according to the article, is said to be completely wired in, connected to university lectures via iPod in order to exist in a constant "learning environment.”

At least 10 states are on board with the formalized program to help students develop these "21st-century skills" in schools and beyond. The Arizona-based Partnership for 21st Century Skills, or P21, the movement's main advocacy group is gaining momentum. On the surface you’d ask yourself who could oppose the notion that we move in a direction where students are taught to think critically and creatively, be technologically savvy and work well with others. But P21 has its critics and the debate goes way beyond the use of technology in the classroom. What is often portrayed as a skirmish over classroom projectors, 3D projectors, whiteboards, Twitter, Kindle, iPods, Skype and cellphones in our nation's classrooms and how they either help or hinder learning is an embarrassing oversimplification. More to come.

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