Expansion of EdTech

Sep 16, 2015 5:30:00 PM Jessica Beidelman Education Technology

Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, recently annonced a ten-year deadline for expanding computer science courses to all NYC students. Such a comprehensive policy aims to ensure that all NYC students will receive the technological  skills required to be successful in the 21st century - in college and beyond. 

According to the PISA 2012 Results: What Students Know and Can Do, compared to our global competitors, the United States ranks 17th in reading, 20th in science, and 27th in mathematics (OECD, February 2014). Providing computer science courses to all students - at a young age - will introduce them to the programming languages and coding skills that define the jobs of the future.

As The New York Times article referenced above aptly notes, increasing computer science courses - especially at such a large scale - will require intensive teacher training. Professional development and initial teacher training will need to prepare teachers to cover topics such as JavaScript and software engineering. This can be especially challenging when those with deep content knowledge in these areas have a compelling financial incentive to work in other industries. 

In recent years, we have seen an increase in large investments in education. Most notably, Facebook's co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has demonstrated his keen interest in funding education reform initiatives that work. Zuckerberg made a $100 million investment in Newark Public Schools and further pledged $120 million to high-poverty San Francisco Bay-Area schools. He most recently teamed up with Summit Public Schools (which we covered as part of our piece on Blended Learning) to develop software that centers on personalized learning helping children learn at their own pace. 

From de Blasio's announcement of expanded computer science coursework to Facebook's step into education software, we are seeing greater synergies between technology companies and classrooms.

How can the expansion of technology in schools help student achievement? What challenges are there in implementation?