CEO Forum on Education and Technology, a partnership between business and education leaders that includes Apple in its membership, today concluded a five-year analysis of the effect of technology on education by calling for new strategies to prepare students for the “burgeoning workforce of the Information Age.”
Their final report, “Key Building Blocks for Student Achievement in the 21st Century,” is being released at the National Education Computing Conference (NECC) in Chicago. The report says that technology is most effective if investment focuses on the key building blocks of student achievement, such as assessment against educational objectives, creating equitable access and establishing accountability. The CEO Forum’s report emphasizes the importance of these core principles of assessment, access and accountability in reaching the “ultimate goal” of education technology — increasing student achievement through and the development of 21st Century skills.
“The U.S. will spend close to $6 billion on education technology this year,” said Ken Kay, Executive Director and a founder of the CEO Forum on Education & Technology, in a statement. “School districts need tools to determine how to link that expenditure with student performance, how to measure its success and how to determine what level of investment will yield the results they are seeking for their students. The CEO Forum has provided the framework for those measurements and decisions.”
The Forum has offered six recommendations for schools, government and parents: Focus education technology investment on specific educational objectives. Make the development of 21st Century skills a key educational objective. Align student assessment with educational objectives while including 21st Century skills. Adopt continuous improvement strategies to measure student progress. Increase investment in research and development and dissemination of best practices. Ensure equitable access to technology for all students.
The CEO Forum defines the 21st Century skills that many students currently lack as digital literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication, teamwork and creation of high quality products. The Forum says that American students are only “slowly” moving toward developing the “21st Century Skills” that employers increasingly require. On the bright side, the CEO Forum says that just as technology has led a “dynamic transformation” in American business, so too can its promise be harnessed to improve learning.
“By 2006, nearly half of all U.S. workers will be employed in industries that produce or intensively use information technology,” said T. Michael Nevens, a director with McKinsey & Company and CEO Forum co-chair “However, students today are not being prepared with the mindset and skills they need to be the knowledge workers of tomorrow By establishing the development of 21st Century skills as an important objective in crafting a school’s student curriculum and supporting technology and assessment plans, we can begin to resolve this disconnect.”
Besides Apple, members of the CEO Forum on Education & Technology include: Advanced Network & Services, America Online, BellSouth Business, Classroom Connect, Compaq, Dell, Discovery Communications, Flextronics International, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Julien J. Studley, Inc., Lucent Technologies, McKinsey & Company, the National Education Association, the National School Boards Association, NetSchools Corporation, Quality Education Data, Sun, and Verizon.