Classroom Technology

Midgley: Tech Needed to Achieve 2020 Goal

By Ian Quillen — November 10, 2011 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Barack Obama’s goal of once again leading the world in percentage of college graduates by 2020 is impossible without increased implementation of technology in education, said U.S. Deputy Director Steve Midgley today at the Virtual School Symposium in Indianapolis.

In a lunchtime keynote that he conceded was, in part, preaching to the digital choir, Midgley thanked digitally innovative educators, stressing that the administration understood the importance of their work.

“What you do and how you do it is really important,” said Midgley in the final moments of a roughly 30-minute address. “And there’s a lot of us in positions of power—for relatively short periods of time—who know it. ... I thank you for the effort you put in to that end.”

Midgley said hitting the president’s 2020 goal will take not only a drastic increase in graduation rates for children currently in the nation’s public schools, but also outreach to people who have already left the school system and do not have a college or even high school diploma. Increasingly, online coursework is viewed as a way to reach those students.

“The only way to hit that goal is to bring people back to the system and provide credentials,” Midgley said. “The only way we’re going to do that is with technology.”

Midgley, while soft-spoken, gave a speech that could be interpreted as a rally-the-troops pep talk meant to instill some faith from technology advocates that have at times wondered whether the Obama administration is as steadfast in support of technology as its rhetoric suggests.

The Obama administration has taken several measures to increase technology availability, notably through the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, and its ensuing E-Rate adjustments and “Connect to Compete” initiative. But it had also labeled the Enhancing Education Through Technology federal funding stream for defunding even before it was finally lost in last April’s Congressional Budget compromise. The program at that point had already dwindled to a $100 million annual funding pool from a level of $700 million in the early portion of the last decade.

Other interesting bites from Midgley’s lunchtime talk:

• Support of open resources, such as the oft-maligned Wikipedia: “I’m sick and tired of people bending my ear to say you can’t rely on Wikipedia. There’s stuff that’s wrong in there. But there’s stuff that’s wrong in textbooks.”

• Assertion of the United Nation’s interpretation of the Internet as a human right: “What drove this movement is watching the Arab spring,” the popular revolutions throughout the Arab world that were largely fueled by social media. “This is about people changing their lives, changing their government, changing the way they live, with the Internet.”

• Concession that teaching technology skills alone will not improve education: “Buying a blender on Amazon and teaching a kid algebra are very different, and one is a lot harder than the other. ... The hard work is between transforming knowledge, transforming learn, transforming experience, and creating the motivation that goes with it.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About Online Student Engagement?
How is your district doing with online student engagement?
Classroom Technology The Future of Blended Learning: What Educators Need to Know
More than two-thirds of educators expect their use of blended learning to increase during the 2021-22 school year.
8 min read
onsr edtech blended
Classroom Technology Why School Districts Are Unprepared for COVID-19 Disruptions, Again
Bad state policy, misplaced optimism, and a focus on full-time virtual schools left districts scrambling to educate quarantined students.
11 min read
onsr edtech hybrid
Classroom Technology Opinion Some Teachers Are New to Laptop Integration. Here’s How to Manage It
Let students help set expectations and make sure both you and they know how to use the tools are just a couple suggestions educators offer.
15 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."