Today, President Obama travelled to Mooresville, NC to announce ConnectEd, an exciting new initiative designed to help bring America's students into the digital age. The goal of the ConnectED initiative is to bring high-speed internet connections to 99% of America's students within five years.
Immediately following the event, James Kvaal, Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council joined high tech schools from across the country for a national virtual "show and tell" via Google+ Hangout. During the conversation, moderated by Betsy Corcoran of EdSurge, students and teachers from the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA, Loris Elementary in Horry County, SC and Chappell Elementary in Green Bay, WI demonstrated how they are using the internet and technology in their classrooms.
The students at Loris elementary talked about how they are using iPads to take photos for a virtual book, then bringing their projects into the digital age by doing presentations via blog post. The high school students at the Science Leadership Academy discussed using technology for everything from building websites and doing graphic design to leveraging their computer science skills to develop a custom video game. The 5th graders at Chappell Elementary school are using their laptops and the power of the internet to raise their awareness of the world around them to raising money online to build a well in Sudan.
When asked how they would be impacted if they didn't have this technology in their classroom, an elementary school student at Loris said "If my teacher and my principal came into the classroom and they told me we had to get rid of all our electronic devices -- no more iPads, computers -- they would have to call the emergency room because I'd be passed out on the floor…What can you do without technology anymore? We have iPads and we can get on our education apps. We need electronics in our lives because I just think it makes the world more interesting."
Another student at the Science Leadership Academy noted "that would be really bad for me, because I want to be a computer scientist so everything I do is on the computer. I'm coding, I'm modeling, I'm always doing something on the computer. There's no way I could do what I want to do without a computer."
With only 20% of educators reporting that their classrooms have the connectivity to meet their teaching needs, that means thousands of schools are missing out on the kinds of opportunities that can be seen at Loris Elementary, the Science Leadership Academy and Chappell Elementary. With President Obama's ConnectED announcement today, we will be investing in bringing the most modern, innovative and up-to-date content and technology into all of America's classrooms, and giving our young people the best education in the world so they can compete for jobs in the global economy.