The new “science of learning” research that draws from many disciplines has changed our understanding of how children learn. Donors are supporting new instruction methods that differ radically from the traditional model of a teacher standing in front of a classroom. Interactive games, open-source textbooks, and online coursework engage students and allow them to learn at their own pace. In agreement with remarks shared by U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, “Our nation’s schools have yet to unleash technology’s full potential to transform learning,” KDK-Harman believes technology can not only transform teaching and learning, adding to the importance of personalized instruction and in keeping with our nation’s students staying at pace with the 21st century, but that technology can open up new avenues for accessibility, mobility, and extended learning time.
KDK-Harman Foundation recognizes that technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, and we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences and content. The challenge is to leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures. In contract to the traditional classroom instruction, this requires that we put students at the center and empower them to take control of their own learning. Almost one-half of youth who drop out of school do so because they find school unchallenging or less important to them than other options. Many dropouts who return to school through alternative programs say that one reason they are willing to persist in school the second time around is that the program is relevant to them, offering hands-on learning. Much of this re-imagining of how students learn and teachers teach comes in the form of technology.[i]
Just as leveraging technology can help us improve learning, it also can help us shift to a model of connected teaching. In a connected teaching model, classroom educators are fully connected to learning data and tools for using the data. They are also connected to their students in support of learning both in and out of school. The same connections give them access to resources and expertise that improve their own practices and guide them in becoming facilitators and collaborators in their students’ increasingly self-directed learning. In 2011, KDK-Harman Foundation seeks to find and support innovative best practices in the use of technology in teaching and learning.
[i] New Day for Learning, January 2007.