Education Technology Policy for a 21st Century Learning System

Year of publication: 
May 2013
Publication: 
Policy Analysis for California Education

Internet-related technology has the capacity to change the learning production system in three important ways. First, it creates the capacity to move from the existing batch processing system of teaching and learning to a much more individualized learning system capable of matching instructional style and pace to a student’s needs.

Second, technology can help make the learning system smart. Adaptive software responds to student activity, providing options, assistance, and challenges. It can also provide feedback to teachers, allowing them to intervene and adjust.

Third, Internet-based technology has the capacity to switch learning production from its traditional hierarchy to a much more open network. Currently, the official curriculum, along with associated lessons and tests, flows from a small oligopoly of publishers whose actions are guided by a handful of large states and school districts. The economies of scale inherent in curriculum packaging concentrate political and economic advantage and reinforce the tendency toward “one best system” and one-size-fits-all solutions. The network capacity of the Internet opens the production of learning to groups of teachers, small enterprises, and individuals.

In this policy brief Charles Taylor Kerchner argues that California has an opportunity to take the lead in harnessing digital technologies and online resources to dramatically improve the performance of the state’s schools and students. He identifies key policy changes that the state can adopt to take full advantage of the promise of what he calls Learning 2.0.

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