Last week, in a move that coincided so perfectly with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that it almost made you wonder if the whole thing was pre-planned behind the scenes, the U.S. Department of Education released its five-year technology plan.
No big surprise here: rather than offer sensible suggestions and grant opportunities for states and local districts to implement technology in ways proven to be beneficial for kids, the plan instead reads like a blueprint for a complete overhaul of our national educational system.
It also mirrors the plan being pushed by the testing, charter, digital/online learning, and student loan industries, as most of its recommendations appear to come straight from “Ten Elements of High Quality Digital Learning” – a list of recommendations developed by a council of executives from testing giants like Pearson and McGraw Hill, charter chains like Rocketship, tech companies like Apple and Microsoft, and – of course – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Personalized learning (Mark Zuckerberg’s other new baby), competency-based education, and embedded, stealth assessment – including assessment of “non-cognitive competencies” – all play prominent roles in both the “Ten Elements” and the U.S. DOE’s new technology plan.
But if that alone doesn’t give you shivers, there’s more.
Despite an admission that research on the effectiveness of technology-enabled programs and resources is still limited, the technology plan also suggests that “the roles of PK–12 classroom teachers and post-secondary instructors, librarians, families, and learners all will need to shift as technology enables new types of learning experiences.”
Yes – you read that right. According the U.S. DOE, not only our schools, but also our families will need to change to make way for the Brave New World recommended by the edu-profiteers.
The plan also says that we will need to consider the “redesign of physical learning spaces to accommodate new and expanded relationships among learners, teachers, peers, and mentors,” and that “leaders should take stock of current systems and processes across learning systems and identify those that can be augmented or replaced by existing technologies.”
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the phrase “redesign of physical learning spaces,” I think of this poorly executed plan (below) that a principal in the Bronx had, where she demanded that teachers throw out their desks to make the rooms more “student-centered.”
The plan also suggests that we, in our states and local districts, conduct research and development to “explore how embedded assessment technologies such as simulations, collaboration environments, virtual worlds, games, and cognitive tutors can be used to engage and motivate learners while assessing complex skills” – meaning, of course, that we should use taxpayer money to do the work of private companies – using our children, in their classrooms, as lab rats in these projects.
Frankly, the whole thing makes me wonder if the U.S. DOE has been “foresighting” with the organization that developed this graphic below:
Does anyone else wonder what kind of strange twilight zone we seem to be entering?