Helping More Schools Be “Future Ready”

Last Friday, the President welcomed students from around the country to the first-ever White House Film Festival, featuring short films made by students about the intersection of technology and education.  The Festival was part of a series of events in recent weeks highlighting the President’s ConnectED initiative, which aims to connect 99% of K-12 students to high-speed Internet within the next five years.

Students submitted more than 2,000 videos showcasing not only how they use technology in the classroom today but also the impact they envision technology will have on education in the future.

Earlier this month, at Buck Lodge Middle School, the President articulated that to achieve the goal of harnessing technology for excellence in education, the public and private sectors will have to collaborate in four critical areas: leadership; empowering teachers; providing access to high quality content solutions and low cost devices; and robust high-speed Internet connectivity. 

This kind of cooperation was on display today in the form of a number of new commitments announced at the Film Festival.  For example, Adobe announced it would make available over $300 million worth of software for free to teachers and students, and Prezi, which makes a software tool for creating memorable presentations, will provide $100 million in Edu Pro licenses for high schools and educators across America. This pushes the total value of private-sector commitments to the ConnectED initiative to over $1 billion.

Also today, Digital Promise, a non-profit focused on spurring innovation in education, announced a new “Future Ready” pledge.  For many, this pledge will act as their first step—by showing commitment to the President’s goal in each of the four critical areas above.  The pledge includes promises to provide links to important resources, and to take actions that can help get individual schools on track—actions like taking an Internet speed test. 

In a related effort, EducationSuperHighway, a non-profit focused on getting an accurate picture of classroom connectivity in order to better focus policy and resources, is announcing it will offer a “Future Ready” badge to every school that takes this important step.

The badge can be placed on a school’s website, not just to show parents and administrators that it is taking positive steps but also to help raise awareness—like wearing a sticker that says “I voted today”.

By partnering with educators, researchers, and technologists, Digital Promise and Education Superhighway aim to provide guidance and resources to help schools create learning environments that prepare students for the ever-changing future.

For more information on the “Future Ready” pledge, you can visit: tech.ed.gov/futurereadypledge.

For more information on Internet speed tests or the “Future Ready” badge, you can visit: http://schoolspeedtest.org/futureready/.

Kumar Garg is Assistant Director for Learning and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and James Sanders is a Presidential Innovation Fellow at the Department of Education.

 

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