Chapter 2: American Education

Molly Higgins

New Students in an Old System

In Tom Vander Ark's book, Getting Smart, he states that students are growing up in a digital age that allows them to interact with the world and their peers in a way that most adults don't understand. This brings a whole set of skills and expectations to their school and work lives. Today's youth understands the social value of online activity and are motivated to participate. The social world that they interact with is permanent, public, and involves managing networks of friends and aquaintances. The Internet provides public space for interaction and feedback. Students respect each others authority on line and learn from each other. Most youth are not taking full advantage of the learning opportunities on the Internet. Students need the support of schools to challenge and personalize the students' learning experiences.

A 2020 forecast by Chad Wick, former CEO for Knowledge Works, says that students need to sort, verify, synthesize, and use information to make judgements and take action. They need the ability to gather evidence and make an argument. They will need to draw inference from complex text. Students also need communication skills across a variety of media. Taking charge of their own learning will also be a skill students need.

Digital technology helps us create an approach to education that fulfill these priorities.

The students are ready for new digital learning options. The question is are the schools ready?