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LEARNER AT THE CENTER OF A NETWORKED WORLD

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FOREWORD

We are living in a time of transformational opportunities. Technology has been the driving force behind dramatic advances occurring in every sector of society. Industry after industry has seen traditional business models challenged as customers connect directly with suppliers or one another and the line blurs between consumers and creators. The digital revolution has turned passive viewers into active users.

America is at an inflection point with respect to reshaping learning, teaching, institutions and indeed how we deliver these to individuals—of every age. In our country, the quality of education today will determine America’s strength in the future and help individuals secure their own prosperity.

Yet, according to international tests, American students are falling farther behind their counterparts in other countries, which suggest that our 18th and 19th century model of education is not working as it should in the 21st century. Nearly half of all Hispanic and African American fourth graders are functionally illiterate. They are two and a half years behind white students. Even many students who make it through our secondary education system and enroll in college find they must take remedial courses before they can begin their college studies.

Manufacturing and factories which influenced subjects, teaching models and even classroom design have been replaced by an economy of creating, developing and selling across a vast array of platforms. The jobs of today-and tomorrow-will require an entirely new system of learning—online and offline, in traditional settings and in the real world, inside and outside walled classrooms.

This report sets forth a vision that stems from the premise that the learner needs to be at the center of novel approaches and innovative learning networks. It argues that we need to embrace innovation to create a diverse system of educational opportunities that can help each and every child reach his or her full potential.

New learning networks allow learners and teachers alike to connect directly to resources, people and activities. Teachers likewise will utilize networking for preparing classes, connecting to students and parents, and learning from and with other professionals. A new era is expanding the possibilities for inspiring, mentoring, assessing and credentialing learning for students of all ages.

This starts with putting the focus on the student. For today’s students, learning does not start when they enter their homeroom or end when the dismissal school bell rings. Kids can attend class anytime, anywhere, in courses tailored to their own learning style, and at their own pace. We can create an education system where instead of time being the constant with learning the variable, the constant is mastery of content and the variable is time. If the opportunity for personalized learning were made available to all students—and we believe that it can be—we could realize the potential for improving academic performance for all students, substantially reducing the disparities that have long been a troubling aspect of the American educational system.

This is the education every student can and should receive.

To address these and many other important issues, the Aspen Institute, with support and guidance from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, established a high level Task Force on Learning and the Internet. We were honored to serve as the Honorary Co-Chairs of that Task Force.

We are very grateful to the members of the Task Force, ably co-chaired by our colleagues John Bailey and Maria Teresa Kumar. We thank Connie Yowell and the MacArthur Foundation, and the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, for bringing this project to fruition. We appreciate the support they received from Penn Hill Group, SWELL Creative Group, and Richard Adler for their in depth work and support, and to Robert Rothman for his support with writing. And we very much value the many contributions from the public dialogue and the outreach interviews that the Task Force undertook. These are also detailed in the Appendix.

After a year of study, outreach to many stakeholders, public input and internal deliberations, the Task Force has arrived at the following report and recommendations for action. While this report conveys the sense of opportunity of the Task Force’s deliberations, understandably, not every member agrees with every sentence or point in the report. This represents a shared sense of a vision based on our belief that students must be at the center of education.

Good teachers have always put the learner first. But this vision goes further. If the learner is at the center of the learning process—a proposition that seems obvious, but has not always been easily realized in practice—then learning networks are individualized and centered on that learner and his or her collaborators. In America, everyone needs affordable access to sufficiently robust networks and the opportunities they offer. The system needs to be interoperable so that learners can seamlessly move among learning platforms, providers and networks and have credentials that follow them. Learners need digital literacy skills to navigate these networks from their first click. They need to learn in “trusted environments” that will protect children’s safety and privacy online without compromising their ability to learn. And the myriad of institutions involved in providing learning opportunities—from schools to afterschool programs, from museums to libraries, from online course providers to parents and in-person tutors, need to adapt to be part of these learning networks and support these new ways of learning. This Report explores each of those concepts and makes recommendations for actions that we hope everyone will join in taking.

We commend this vision to you. If you, as we, support this vision, then you will see that much needs to be done to improve the learning processes and opportunities offered to our students. We hope that in the months and years ahead you will become part of this movement. We urge you to place students—the learners—at the center of your thinking about this topic and the exciting future our country holds. Our children and our nation are depending on it, and deserve nothing less.

JEB BUSH ROSARIO DAWSON
HONORARY CO-CHAIR HONORARY CO-CHAIR

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PREFACE

After funding a series of research projects on the nature of learning over the past decade, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation came to the conclusion that 21st century learners had new and powerful ways to connect to their academics, their peers and the vast array of resources now available to anyone anywhere. The opportunities these learners have to adapt a large network of resources inside and outside the classroom to their own particular learning styles and to collaborate with others can solve many legitimate concerns of parents and educators alike.

But a series of barriers could frustrate this promising future. Many are without the tools or resources to engage. Even when the resources are present, they often operate in separate silos, making it difficult to move across the landscape of learning. And sometimes the reactions to legitimate problems such as safety and privacy can result in overreactions that prevent the openness and movement that a learner needs online. These opportunities and concerns led the MacArthur Foundation to support the non-partisan Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program in the formation of a Task Force to envision learning in this rapidly changing environment and to suggest ways to address barriers to realizing that vision.

With this guidance, and financial support from MacArthur, the Communications and Society Program assembled twenty diverse leaders in education, technology and the civic sphere to reimagine learning. The Institute asked the Task Force to understand the potential of new learning landscapes, and to address the tensions of values inherent in fostering learning and innovation, on the one hand, and safety and privacy, on the other. What measures could best reconcile these tensions, or at least move the conversation forward?

We were fortunate to get two leadership teams to co-chair the Task Force. Jeb Bush, Honorary Co-Chair, and John Bailey, Co-Chair of the Task Force, both connect to this topic through their work for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. And actress Rosario Dawson, Honorary Co-Chair, and Maria Teresa Kumar, Co-Chair of the Task Force, lead Voto Latino. We are grateful for their significant leadership skills in bringing the larger group to consensus on both the vision and the recommendations in this report.

They and the other members of the Task Force, whose biographies appear in the Appendix, worked together through four in-person roundtable meetings, multiple virtual meetings, commissioned outreach to the learning community and to the public, and by their individualized editing, to create this set of recommendations. We appreciate the commitment that each Member brought to the process.

The vision of learners at the center of their learning networks has potentially broad and significant implications. If learners are truly at the center, there needs to be more and better efforts to make sure that every learner has access to the hardware, software, tools, content and literacy necessary to take advantage of this vision. Technology needs to work for the learner wherever and whenever he or she uses it. The Task Force uses the word “interoperability,” which is exactly what is needed: the technology should revolve around the learner, not the other way around. And the learner should possess the digital age literacy tools to use and understand the media in both the virtual and physical worlds. These literacies will also help one keep safe and private in the digital world, elements of a “trusted environment” that the Task Force found necessary for effective learning, but one that needs to allow for openness and innovation as the learner moves throughout the system.

We at the MacArthur Foundation and the Aspen Institute are pleased that this Task Force of 20 outstanding individuals could arrive at a unanimous report. We understand that not every Task Force member may agree with every statement in the report, but they have all agreed to this vision, the general principles and the specific action steps that could bring about that vision.

The next step is for governments, public officials, school districts, educators, community activists, parents and students all to move forward to bring these Action Steps to reality. We commend them to you to act in ways you see fit. Only by wide constituencies acting together will we move to the next era of educating our populace. We add our thanks to those expressed in the Foreword by our Honorary Co-Chairs: to the Task Force members, our consultants Penn Hill Group, Swell Creative, the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program staff, primary writer Richard Adler, editorial consultant Bob Rothman, and the many others at the MacArthur Foundation and the Aspen Institute who brought this report to fruition.

We should mention that other policy programs at the Aspen Institute work more directly on education issues, focusing primarily on schools, or on comprehensive community impact. So that the reader is not confused, this report emanates from the Communications and Society Program, which looks at the societal impact of information and communications technologies, thus does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of other Aspen Institute policy programs. The MacArthur Foundation was pleased to support the work of the Program in this regard.

We hope you will read, reflect on, and support this report.

JULIA STASCH,
INTERIM PRESIDENT
WALTER ISAACSON,
PRESIDENT AND CEO
John D. and Caterine T. MacArthur Foundation The Aspen Institute

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VIDEO - Learner at the Center of a Networked World

An overview of the Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet, a group of twenty diverse leaders in Technology, Public Policy, Education, Business, Privacy and Safety, who has reimagined learning for the digital age. This video highlights obstacles and offers solutions with five essential principles for safe, optimized learning.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet, with support and guidance from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is a group of 20 innovative and respected minds in technology, public policy, education, business, privacy and safety. The Task Force’s goal was to understand the ways in which young people learn today and to optimize learning and innovation within a trusted environment. From there, the Task Force defined how parents, teachers, young learners, businesses and nonprofits can expand new learning opportunities, online and off-line, and inside and outside the classroom.

After a year of study, outreach to stakeholders, public input and internal deliberations, the Task Force believes that a new vision of learning is emerging. But to ensure that young learners are able to take full advantage of the opportunity, we must resolve serious issues of trust, safety, privacy, literacy and equity of access. To help resolve some of these challenges, the Task Force has highlighted five essential principles and twenty-six action steps with the intention they be used as a guide for action—a living tool to help those who wrestle with these issues at the local, state and federal levels to tackle them with new insights, clarity and efficiency. A visual of how each stakeholder—government, parents, educators, school district leaders, students, foundations, non-profits and businesses—can take action appears below.

The five essential principles for creating safe, optimized and rewarding learning experiences for young learners are as follows:

Learners need to be at the center of learning networks.


We first make recommendations for actions that will truly put learners at the center of the networks that can enhance and accelerate their learning. Parents and teachers need support to help them integrate new methods of learning into and outside the classroom. Community organizations, including libraries, museums and other civic and cultural institutions, must become full-fledged participants in learning networks.

Every student should have access to learning networks.


We recommend steps that are needed to ensure equity of access so that all young people can pursue their learning goals. This includes every student having adequate connectivity—including reliable broadband connections—as well as access to the hardware, applications, digital age literacy and high-quality content necessary to support their learning.

Learning networks need to be interoperable.


We believe that learning networks need to be maximally interoperable to ensure that valuable educational resources are not isolated in separate silos and that innovations can be shared across networks. Interoperability is also important to allow students to move freely across networks to assemble their learning objectives and to receive credit for all learning accomplishments, wherever they occur.

Learners should have the literacies necessary to utilize media as well as safeguard themselves in the digital age.


We also believe that all learners and educators need a sufficient degree of digital age literacy, where media, digital and social-emotional literacies are present, to be able to use these learning resources to learn through multiple media confidently, effectively and safely. Every student must have a chance to learn these vital skills.

Students should have safe and trusted environments for learning.


We focus on steps needed to create a trusted environment that will protect children’s safety and privacy online without compromising their ability to learn.Parents should be able to trust that their children’s personally identifiable information is safe, secure and won’t be used in ways other than to help their academic progress. We argue for a shift from a negative, fear-based approach that attempts to insulate children from all harm (and may also create barriers to valuable resources) to a positive approach that will enable students to pursue learning experiences online without fearing for their safety or privacy.

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Action Steps


The icons in this section represent the stakeholder—government, parents, educators, school district leaders, students, foundations, non-profits, and businesses—most suited to that action.
GOVERNMENT
PARENTS

EDUCATORS

SCHOOL DISTRICTS & LEADERS
STUDENTS
FOUNDATIONS
NON PROFITS
BUSINESSES

Learners need to be at the center of new learning networks.
RECOMMENDATION 1
Redesign learning environments to empower learners to learn any time, any place and at any pace, both in school and beyond.

Action A: Invest funds to develop next-generation models, strategies, tools, services and platforms needed to enable effective student-centered learning networks.

Action B: Support pilots for new competency-based learning approaches that recognize knowledge, skills and competencies achieved in or outside of schools.

Action C: Disseminate case studies and evaluations of effective programs and best practices in advancing student-centered learning through learning networks and competency-based approaches.

Action D: Develop new assessments and tools to convey evidence of student achievement through learning networks, such as badges or other new credentialing, and encourage states to develop mechanisms, such as portable data backpacks, that can assist with the collection and secure storage of student credentials, work and outcomes.

RECOMMENDATION 2
Enhance the ability of educators to support and guide learners in a networked learning environment.

Action E: Invest in research and professional training to better prepare educators for changing roles in supporting students’ use of new and existing learning networks.

Action F: Align teacher quality policies and professional development funding to ensure that educators have the necessary support, resources and skills to leverage technology and to enhance learning for their students.

Every student should have access to learning networks.
RECOMMENDATION 3
Build an infrastructure that will connect all students in all of the places they learn.

Action G: Base the bandwidth needs of schools, libraries and other institutions, not on the needs of the institution as a whole but on the collective needs of all learners that they serve.

Action H: Build innovative partnerships among the public and private sectors to bring broadband access to all learners.

Action I: Ensure that all learners have access to appropriate devices that connect them to learning opportunities through a wide range of options that include BYOD (bring your own device), leasing and cooperative purchasing strategies.

Action J: Provide pathways to high-quality content, courses and educational experiences through platforms, applications and curation efforts by educators, students and parents.

Action K: Develop appropriate and effective filtering policies.

Action L: Expand access to learning technologies for students with learning differences.

Learning networks need to be interoperable.
RECOMMENDATION 4
Support the maximum feasible degree of interoperability across learning networks.

Action M: Adopt open standards and protocols that simplify and promote interoperability of learning resources.

Action N: As a condition of funding, require developers of learning networks and learning resources to make provisions to ensure interoperability.

All learners should have the literacies necessary to utilize media as well as safeguard themselves in the digital age.
RECOMMENDATION 5
Adopt policies to incorporate digital, media and social-emotional literacies as basic skills for living and learning in the digital age.

Action O: Fund and pilot new credentialing systems to recognize and support the acquisition of digital age literacies.

Action P: Fund the development and use of online programs and innovative peer platforms to build digital age literacies in adults, youth and parents.

Action Q: Research existing state educational curricula that already include digital age literacies to identify best practices and gaps that need to be filled.

Action R: Ensure that digital age literacies are incorporated in the Common Core State Standards implementation.

Action S: Make digital age literacies required skills for all educators and expected of parents.

Action T: Along with Action Z, integrate risks related to digital life into all existing risk-prevention education programs.

Students should have safe and trusted environments for learning.
RECOMMENDATION 6
Create Trusted Environments for Learning.

Action U: Foster collaborative efforts at all levels to establish principles of a Trusted Environment for Learning.

Action V: Invest in deeper research and studies on the efficacy of existing federal privacy laws, such as COPPA, CIPA and FERPA, as well as various state laws, and seek recommendations on how to improve and modernize them or develop more effective alternatives to support learning networks.

Action W: Re-examine federal and state regulations governing collection and access to student educational data to provide appropriate safeguards that protect against specific harms relating to learners’ privacy and security and, at the same time, accommodate the future of learning tools and services.

Action X: Design, implement and evaluate technology-based approaches to providing a trust framework that addresses privacy and safety issues while permitting learners to pursue online learning.

Action Y: Fund public awareness campaigns about the importance of and methods for acting safely and responsibly on and off-line.

Action Z: Arm learners with the capability to protect themselves online through both appropriate risk-prevention education and teaching digital, media and social-emotional literacies.

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VIDEO - A New Culture of Learning

The Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet tags along with Wanda Cook Robinson, Aspen Task Force member and former Superintendent of Southfield, Michigan Public Schools, to hear how her students and teachers are dealing with the challenges and opportunities of digital learning.

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INTRODUCTION - The Learning Ecosystem

The digital revolution has transformed almost every aspect of society. No facet of this revolution has more potential than its ability to change the way people learn. The availability of a vast array of knowledge and resources at the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen, together with the ability to connect instantaneously with peers and mentors across the street and across the globe, make possible completely new learning environments and experiences. These opportunities are highly engaging and collaborative, and they are based on learners’ own interests and strengths. Students can truly learn any time, any place and at any pace.

However, our traditional system of education is rooted in a model first developed in the Industrial Age. It assumes that knowledge is transferred from an external source—teachers, books and schools—to a student. Students are grouped by age, and progress is often based on the amount of time they spend in class and not on how much they have learned. In most instances, any learning that takes place outside class does not count for credit, nor is it even formally recognized.

This long-held model is struggling to engage a new generation of students for whom learning is happening all the time—online, off-line, in classrooms, as well as after school, in libraries and at museums. The connected learner can access tutorials, lessons and entire courses online while participating in afterschool programs such as code academies and maker labs.

To maximize these learning opportunities, young people must be fully connected. Students need to connect easily with others who can support their learning and to have the ability to share their ideas widely and safely. They need access to broadband, devices and software as well as to high-quality content and the literacy skills to support their full participation. They need to prepare for the world of bits, networks and entrepreneurship.

Our digital environments—social networks, mobile apps, online games and participatory websites—also require trust. Trust in the information, in the relationship between student and teacher, and in the medium itself. And learners need the skills to understand and respond appropriately to the risks they may encounter on the Internet.

It is time for a new vision of learning—one that includes but is not limited to formal schooling—that captures the transformation the Internet presents. And it is time for a roadmap toward achieving that vision for all young people, particularly those who have been least well-served. If we don’t align these transformations, too many of our youth will lack the skills for modern jobs, and our individual and national economies will suffer. This new vision, then, is the charge of the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet.

Our goals, and the goals of this report, are to begin to describe the potential of this new learning environment, to set a vision and framework for lifelong learning, and to identify barriers for making this vision a reality. And, not least of all, our goal is to recommend actions to overcome the barriers separating students, parents and teachers from this vision.

This report is our call to action. The vision we describe is bold and urgently needed. It is achievable. And it is absolutely essential if all young people are to be equipped for lifelong success and if we as a society are to realize the transformative potential of the Internet.

A New Culture of Learning
As adults, we know firsthand how much information is shared on a daily basis by emails, text messages, images or shared website links. At one time this seemed overwhelming, but over time people mastered a new set of skills to take advantage of and leverage these new technologies. At the same time, young people are adopting these new tools more rapidly. They are sending two orders of magnitude more text messages than adults, dwarfing even our email inboxes in volume.

In a 2011 book, A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (a member of the Aspen Institute Task Force) described the kind of learning necessary in this new environment as “whitewater learning”1—the ability to acquire useful knowledge and skills while at the same time practicing them in an environment that is constantly evolving and presenting new challenges. They argue that our learning environments need to match the speed and degree of change happening in the world around us.

Rather than systematically accumulating static “stocks” of knowledge, students now need to learn how to actively participate in “flows” of knowledge by engaging with others in the construction of new knowledge. This kind of knowledge is often put to use at the same time it is learned. It is most effectively acquired through solving problems with others in an environment that offers an abundance of challenges and unlimited opportunities. In this new world, curiosity and creativity become critical skills (or dispositions) that motivate students to seek answers to the questions that most interest them—an ability that will serve them well throughout the rest of their lives.

The “whitewater learning” environment is characterized by several key features:

The Creation of New Knowledge. The shift from mass, mainly one-way, media that are consumed to interactive media that encourage participation and activity, and the recent rise of social media that actively encourage participation, mean that individuals are evolving from passive consumers of content to active creators and contributors. The Internet offers access to an array of digital resources that provide the means for creating and sharing content with others. This can be as simple as exchanging text messages with a friend or updating a Facebook page, or as elaborate as producing a video for YouTube, coding for a new game or publishing a personal blog. Online interactive games are based on mastering increasingly difficult levels of challenges, accomplishments that often require planning and collaboration with others.

One of the characteristics of the new media is that they blur the lines between once-distinct categories of information. Media such as these are often seen merely as social tools or sources of entertainment. But they can also provide the means for valuable educational experiences if they are used to pursue a personal interest or to learn something new. These tools allow students to collaborate with one another on lessons, projects and other learning activities. Technology is also helpful for remote, rural or low-income learners with little or no access to advanced educational opportunities at any age. Students can have access to Advanced Placement courses never before offered, learn necessary languages and tools for tomorrow’s economy and gain more access to the creative economy. Learners who are first learning the English language or are their family’s first high school or college graduates will now have low-cost opportunities that were not afforded to previous generations.

Learning in this new environment is not a solitary activity but frequently involves participating in learning communities, sharing the process of discovery with others with common interests. The most powerful types of learning involve not just acquiring knowledge but also collaborating with others to solve problems or create new knowledge. And in education, it offers opportunities not just for students but also for teachers who can participate in online communities around the subjects they teach, crowdsource new lessons plans, or create and share new content.

Agency. Increasingly technology is helping students chart their own unique pathways of learning subjects as well as adjusting the pace of their learning. To take advantage of these new environments, learners must move from the passive absorption of content to a new sense of agency that enables them to find a path that makes sense for their individual interests and learning styles. Educators and mentors need to guide and support them in that quest.

Agency is highly motivating for students. But the Task Force recognizes that not all learners are able to exercise the same level of agency. Some young people have the background, the family support and the “questing disposition” that equip them to be confident independent learners, while others, many with fewer advantages, are less prepared to orchestrate their own learning experiences. In addition, students of different ages will be at different cognitive stages that will determine the extent to which they can operate on their own.

These differences need to be recognized and taken into account if the benefits of new learning opportunities are to be truly inclusive. In some cases, self-motivated young people will be able to pursue their interests on their own, effectively mobilizing online and off-line resources to further their personal learning goals. In other cases, learners will need to be supported by schools and other community institutions that recognize the power of this kind of learning and are willing to integrate them into their existing activities. Today, stories abound of students once disengaged from the education system who are now re-engaging and thriving. They found opportunities to explore their interests while learning subjects such as the arts or coding. The skills and knowledge they have gained have then allowed them to succeed in the intellectual economy.

It will be important for learning institutions and professionals to consider how individualized learning can apply to all communities, fostering equity in educational outcomes rather than exacerbating divides. In addition to empowering young people to learn, helping them to develop a strong sense of agency may be the most effective means of keeping them safe online as they follow their interests.

Learning Networks. Learning that is active, engaged and personalized does not take place in a cloistered environment. Rather, it is made possible by a web of environments that includes libraries, museums, schools, afterschool programs and homes. Online resources that can support learning include tools such as search engines, blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos, social networks, massive open online courses (MOOCs), open educational resources and specialized communities of practice. Broadband connections, both wired and wireless, along with a variety of access devices ranging from desktop computers to smartphones, provide the “on-ramps” that make these resources widely available. And, of course, people continue to play critical roles, both online and off-line, in inspiring, guiding and protecting students’ learning. Teachers and parents have vital roles in ensuring that each new generation of students gets the education that they need, safely and securely, even as peer-to-peer connections are enabling new forms of social learning.

Learning networks not only provide access to a virtually endless array of learning opportunities, but they can offer learners multiple points of entry—both inside the classroom and beyond it—that provide highly individualized pathways toward career, civic and academic success. They can support acquiring traditional content and skills and also inspire students to be creative, thoughtful problem solvers. Learning networks facilitate student learning through the pursuit of their own interests, at any time and at any place. They also represent a powerful new means for individualizing instruction within existing educational institutions.

The current reality is that many learner networks are fragmented, organized within silos and not interconnected. Our education system is organized primarily around the learning that occurs within a school and does not capture or recognize the learning that takes place outside of school. New learning networks connect it all.

Digital Learning. Digital learning is the catalyst that allows next generation models of learning to become the transformational change needed to personalize education, give students more agency and expand access to new learning experiences. Digital learning tools also enable teachers and students to assess learning at any point so that students can move on to the next level or get additional help when struggling. (See the sidebar New Learning in Action.)

Key Components and Properties of Connected Learning
CONNECTED LEARNING KNITS TOGETHER THREE CRUCIAL CONTEXTS FOR LEARNING;
Peer-Supported In their everyday exchanges with peers and friends, young people are contributing, sharing and giving feedback in inclusive social experiences that are fluid and highly engaging.
Interest-Powered When a subject is personally interesting and relevant, learners achieve much higher-order learning outcomes.
Academically

Learners flourish and realize their potential when they can connect their oriented interests and social engagement to academic studies, civic engagement and career opportunity.

CORE PROPERTIES OF CONNECTED LEARNING EXPERIENCES INCLUDE;
Production-Centered Digital tools provide opportunities for producing and creating a wide variety of media, knowledge and cultural content in experimental and active ways.
Shared Purpose Social media and web-based communities provide unprecedented opportunities for crossgenerational and crosscultural learning and connection to unfold and thrive around common goals and interests.
Openly Networked

Online platforms and digital tools can make learning resources abundant, accessible and visible across all learner settings.



Digital tools can extend learning beyond the confines of the school. Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Future, has argued that digital technology is bringing about a fundamental shift that is:

[B]reaking learning (and education overall) out of traditional institutional environments and embedding it in everyday settings and interactions, distributed across a wide set of platforms and tools, which include a rapidly growing and openly [licensed] content commons (Wikipedia is just one example), on-demand expertise and help (from Mac Forums to Fluther, Instructables and WikiHow), mobile devices that take information into the physical world and makes it available any place any time, [and] new work and social spaces (TechShop, meetups, hackathons, community labs) that are evolving as important learning spaces3.

Technology continues to evolve and become more powerful, adding new capabilities to support learning. Network connectivity is increasingly ubiquitous. New types of hardware are integrating computing and communications capabilities in innovative ways. Computing in the cloud makes it possible to provide supercomputing power to even simple devices. And the technologies of artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing are creating new forms of “cognitive computing” that can act as intelligent guides for students and more rapidly analyze student work4.

These tools and the ever continuing advances in technology are helping to create a new learning ecosystem. A 2013 report from the KnowledgeWorks Foundation describes the emerging structure as one in which “learning adapts to each child instead of each child trying to adapt to school.”5 The report predicts that “personalization [of education] will become the norm” and that “learners and their families will create individualized learning playlists reflecting their particular interests, goals and values.”6

The key to this transformation is that

the learner is at the center of the process,

supported by peers, mentors, parents and educators, using networks that go beyond the traditional schools to support their learning. And because it is digitally based, all learning can be captured and credited, no matter when or where it occurs. As a byproduct, the wealth of data that is generated on student learning can also be used productively by educators and students to customize programs for individual learning.

Toward a New Learning Ecosystem
This new learning ecosystem, then, represents a significant shift from traditional conceptions of how education is organized and delivered. The goal is to empower learners and educators to achieve more. This is necessary to encourage lifelong learning, to foster the skills and dispositions necessary for the 21st-century workplace, to instill innovative thinking and to enhance citizens’ ability to engage in civic affairs.

While it has been described by many names, perhaps the most evocative is “connected learning,” which is socially embedded, interest-driven and oriented toward educational, economic or political opportunity.7

Connected learning takes place online and off-line, within schools and beyond. It occurs when “a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement.”8 Thus, connected learning implies that learners are able to find the resources they need and connect with peers, mentors and institutions that can advance their learning. The Aspen Task Force has drawn from the connected learning framework in its research and deliberations.

The Task Force understands that change is often difficult. The approach to learning envisioned in this report raises numerous issues that need to be addressed. But the Task Force believes that the potential of the new networked environment for learning deserves broad support because of the opportunity it presents to accelerate and enhance learning for everyone. It can enable our education systems to become what our economy needs, our society demands, and our students deserve: the transformation of an individual’s learning environment to a broader learning ecosystem.

COMMUNITY VOICES:
This ship has sailed—the world is moving on and technology is part of it. We do not want to leave the school system behind. We need to keep driving toward where we want everyone to be versus waiting until everyone is ready. The end goal will involve the Internet, and there needs to be a framework for it.
- Sandra Moscoso, Parent, DC Public Schools

America’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture has demonstrated the power of innovation to bring benefits to the public and drive economic growth. And activists working in the public interest have been responsible for valuable social innovations. This same spirit of innovation can also be a source of positive change in learning.


The Challenges To Creating A New Culture Of Learning
In its research, and in discussions with many groups and individuals, the Task Force heard real excitement about the potential of the new network-based culture of learning. But it also heard a number of concerns expressed by parents, educators, policymakers and young people themselves about the potential role of technology in learning. These concerns must be acknowledged and addressed. Among the concerns:

  • Technology can be isolating and can hinder a child’s social, emotional and physical development.
  • Not every child will thrive with self-directed learning.
  • The growing use of technology for learning may increase the opportunity and achievement gaps between well-off and disadvantaged students.
  • Adults worry that young people are less safe online and that technology poses potential threats to a child’s privacy and safety.
  • Parents and teachers who are unfamiliar with new technology are not well equipped to support its use by young people.
  • A significant percentage of children have limited or no access at home to computers or smart devices; this hinders their opportunities to participate in these new forms of learning.
  • It is difficult to assess the quality of online educational materials.
  • Teachers and educators are already overwhelmed with demands and are not prepared to handle the additional challenge of new technology.
  • The integration of technology in schools will cause disruption, and there is no guarantee it will improve education.
  • Technology will replace teachers.
  • Schools rely too much on “seat time” and not enough on actual learning.
  • Technology will take away resources from traditional education.
  • Beyond digital media, students still like interacting with educators and learning from books—they want it all.
  • School district leaders fear that alternative learning options and technology will result in reduced funding for schools and districts.

These fears and concerns are real. But they are not insurmountable. We have spent over a year exploring these issues and seeking to identify the most promising options for reconciling the opportunities and potential hazards.

The emerging learning ecosystem holds great promise for today’s generation of learners. The Task Force sees this new culture of learning as a way forward for the country at every level—supporting individual empowerment, economic development, increased qualifications for jobs, social advancement, improved civic governance and even increased global competitiveness. But much remains to be done to make these opportunities a reality while still addressing the legitimate concerns voiced above.

Based on our deliberations, the Aspen Task Force recommends action in five specific areas in order to realize its new vision of learning. The following sections of the report present the Task Force’s findings and a summary of its recommendations:

  1. We make recommendations for actions that will truly put learners at the center of the networks that can enhance and accelerate their learning. Teachers need support to help them integrate new methods of learning into the classroom. Community organizations, including libraries, museums and other civic and cultural institutions, must become full-fledged participants in learning networks. Parents continue to have an important role to play as enablers of and guides for their children’s learning experiences.
  2. We recommend steps that are needed to ensure equity of access to the resources that young people need to pursue their learning goals. This includes having adequate connectivity, including reliable broadband connections, as well as access to the hardware, applications and high-quality content and courses necessary to support their learning. When we say “everyone,” we mean everyone.
  3. We believe that learning networks need to be maximally

    interoperable

    to ensure that learning assets are not isolated in separate silos and that innovations can be shared across networks. Interoperability is also important to allow students to move freely across networks to pursue their learning objectives and to receive credit for all learning accomplishments wherever they occur. Interoperability also empowers educators and parents to have flexibility and control regardless of which providers they choose.
  4. We also believe that all learners and educators need a sufficient degree ofmedia, digital and social-emotional literacies to learn through multiple media confidently, effectively and safely. Every student must have a chance to learn these vital skills.
  5. We focus on steps needed to create a trusted environment that will protect children’s safety and privacy online without compromising their ability to learn. Parents should be able to trust that their children’s personally identifiable information is safe, secure and won’t be used in ways other than to help their academic progress. We argue for a shift from a negative, fear-based approach that attempts to insulate children from all harm but may also create barriers to valuable resources to a proactive approach that will enable students to pursue online learning experiences safely.

DMU Timestamp: June 24, 2014 21:59

Added June 24, 2014 at 7:50pm
Reason: Section 7

LEARNERS AT THE CENTER - Findings and Recommendations

THE TASK FORCE FINDS:
  • While educators are often learner-centered in what they do every day, educational systems are not always geared that way. Many, if not most, students still learn in classrooms that follow an educational model developed in the 19th century. The United States must create a system for the 21st century that is able to meet the unique needs of each individual learner and that takes advantage of every resource and opportunity inside and outside of a school.
  • Digital technology can help the education system move beyond the factory model of education and empower students, teachers and parents with a personalized learning experience in a way that was never previously possible. Digital media provides new opportunities for learners to pursue their interests and find educational resources, experiences, and courses any time and any place.
  • Experiences outside of the classroom are important sources of learning. More effective models are needed to expand learning beyond the school through connected networks that bring opportunities together into a seamless, integrated experience.
  • Competency-based approaches to assessment and credit-granting can ensure that all learning counts, no matter where or when it occurs. But implementing these approaches will require modernizing the way education is organized and regulated.
  • Educators and other professionals have always played a critical role in inspiring and supporting learners, and they are vital to a learner-centered approach. The importance of skilled, dedicated teachers to guide students’ learning increases under this new model, even as their role evolves from instructing groups of students to guiding individualized or collaborative learning experiences and providing more intensive assistance when needed.

New digital technologies give students the ability to participate in networks that enable them to pursue their individual interests and learn at any time, in any place and at any pace, both online and off-line, in school and beyond. These “learning networks” can provide direct access to a variety of educational resources. Within these networks is an expanding variety of providers, including schools, museums, libraries, colleges, universities and afterschool programs. There is also an explosion of resources ranging from e-books and websites to virtual worlds and engaging multimedia content, as well as connections to peers, mentors, parents and teachers who will support learning.

COMMUNITY VOICES:
We need a culture shift regarding digital learning versus layering it on. It will take considerable time and energy, but with adequate training and development, teachers can take ownership of the disruption.
- Shilpi Niyogi, Pearson

The emerging learning networks are at once expansive and broad but also highly individualized. Much of their power comes from their ability to customize the learning experience to individual users or small groups, enabling them to choose the pathways that are most appropriate to their needs and diverse learning styles. These new networks can accelerate learning and enable all students to realize their full potential, creating a strong foundation for success as workers, citizens and family members.

Making this exciting new form of learning succeed will require the active support of all parts of the public and private sectors. In order to create an infrastructure that will support students as they engage with learning networks, parents, educators, government, industry and philanthropy, all need to work to modernize educational institutions, regulations, tools and services. This will include development of new pedagogies, new tools for both students and teachers and new competency-based approaches to measure and give credit for knowledge and skills acquired through nontraditional means.

In addition to the participation of the formal school system, this transformation will require the involvement of a broad range of informal educational institutions—libraries, museums, science centers, afterschool programs—that have important roles to play in supporting learning networks.

COMMUNITY VOICES:
The sage on the stage style of teaching is coming to a rapid end. In a competency-based model where teachers have to customize education all the time, they become more like a manager of educational opportunities for kids instead of the sole provider of information.
- Steve Bowen, Council of Chief State School Officers, Innovation Lab Network

To achieve this new vision, stakeholders must address the challenges learners face today. In some cases, learners have limited access to education outside the school walls, while in-school learning is too tightly bound by time and place and too often presumes that all students learn at the same pace. New, informal networks can support a more customized learner-centered approach to education, but mindsets and policies must evolve to support this new approach and help accelerate its adoption.

THE TASK FORCE RECOMMENDS:

RECOMMENDATION

1 Redesign learning environments to empower learners to learn any time, any place and at any pace, both in school and beyond.
Action A: Invest funds to develop next-generation models, strategies, tools, services and platforms needed to enable effective student-centered learning networks.

The Institute for Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education funds millions of dollars of research that is primarily focused on providing evidence of "what works." While that is an important goal, there is a need to develop new, innovative approaches that could fuel accelerated change and help educators understand how to transform education systems. While some steps have been taken to support education reforms through the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund and the proposed ARPA-ED program, new private, public and philanthropic funding should allow for more development and scaling of transformative educational models, devices, tools and systems.

Action B: Support pilots for new, competency-based learning approaches that recognize knowledge, skills and competencies achieved in or outside of schools.

Students learn in different ways, at different speeds and through different pathways, both online and off-line, which may also vary by subject for each student. Yet these differences are not taken into account by current credentialing schemes, many of which give too much weight to how much time a student spends in the classroom.

To allow competency-based learning models to evolve, state policy needs to provide flexibility around seat time and other requirements that govern when a child must be in the “line of sight” of a teacher. Institutions of higher education need incentives to recognize competency-based transcripts. Flexibility will be needed in existing teacher certification and evaluation systems. And states, districts and schools need concrete road maps for building new systems that are inclusive of all learning styles, consider all stakeholders and allow for anytime/anywhere learning both in and out of school.

Development of sound principles should lead to efforts by government and philanthropies to support pilots for implementation of these new systems for learning. These pilots should be designed to be iterative and to respond to what’s working in context. These pilots should:

An enormous benefit of competency-based systems is their ability to leverage learning anytime and anywhere and to take advantage of experts throughout the world and in the community beyond the school walls. For example, learning that happens after school in a library can count for credit, and students who want to master a language not offered at their school can find online classes in that language. The ability for these partnerships to take hold in the system should be built at the outset.
Students with learning differences may require varying levels of support when education systems move to competency-based systems with more self-direction and personalized learning. Some students may respond best to direct, explicit instruction, for example, while others may thrive in collaborative spaces or self-paced digital environments.
    • Include a range of institutions, actors and organizations in implementation.
    • Consider all learning styles as new systems are developed.
Action C: Disseminate case studies and evaluations of effective programs and best practices in advancing student-centered learning through learning networks and competency-based approaches.

Parents, educators and students have different levels of understanding about digital media learning environments. We need to help people visualize and understand what the ideal learning environment looks like, the benefits of a transformed environment and the challenges in getting there. Communities can use these case studies and evaluations to inform and guide the creation of digital media environments that suit their needs. These models will, in turn, encourage schools and other learning institutions to adopt or adapt to these new approaches.

Action D: Develop new assessments and tools to convey evidence of student achievement through learning networks, such as badges or other new credentialing, and encourage states to develop mechanisms, such as portable data backpacks, that can assist with the collection and secure storage of student credentials, work and outcomes.

New methods of more fine-grained assessment of student accomplishment are now available. These include real-time assessments embedded in new learning platforms and education games. In addition to traditional academic credentials, there is also a growing array of badges that document the acquisition of specific skills or learning experiences. One of the advantages of badges is that they can recognize learning no matter where it occurs.

To date, badges have been mainly used in out-of-school learning projects, such as Chicago’s 2013 Summer of Learning. Several colleges and universities, including Northern Arizona University and Southern New Hampshire University, are developing competency-based degree programs that involve giving credit for specific skills rather than for completed classes.9 At the end of 2013, with support from the Lumina Foundation, a Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), involving up to 20 institutions of higher education, was established to serve as a platform for sharing experiences and identifying best practices.10 Meanwhile, the Mozilla Foundation, with support from the MacArthur Foundation, has developed an Open Badges Infrastructure11 that “makes it possible for badges issued by different companies and communities to be interoperable and shareable across the web”. Open SUNY (opensuny.courseites.com) is an early exemplar of a traditional higher education system employing Mozilla’s Open Badges. Common Sense Media is using badges as part of its “digital passports” aimed at building digital literacy (www.digitalpassport.org).

Policy makers and education leaders need to establish reliable and secure mechanisms for capturing, storing and reporting students’ academic progress based on their learning experiences in a variety of settings across a variety of networks. This may involve the development of enhanced learner profiles that are capable of representing student accomplishment on a more granular level while still maintaining a student’s privacy. It could also involve the creation of secure, portable “data backpacks” containing detailed evidence of their owners’ learning levels, preferences, motivations and personal accomplishments. In addition to containing traditional transcript data, these backpacks would include supplementary information that gives a more holistic view of student learning and provides feedback loops to strengthen learning that takes place across networks.12 Data backpacks also can help build trust among parents, students and educators.

Ultimately, though, this is not a problem just for educators. Employers, as well, need to think through and explain what they look for when hiring. Specifically, what kind of credentialing will they value and base hiring decisions on? To facilitate this process, as the world transitions to more accurate credentialing, the Task Force suggests that industry officials and experts gather regularly to define what credentials outside of the traditional route they will find most helpful in hiring and maintaining a workforce. Similarly, educators and others who provide alternative credentials should engage with business leaders to keep up to date about the progression of skill sets necessary for jobs of the future.

RECOMMENDATION

2 Enhance the ability of educators to support and guide learners in a networked learning environment.
Action E: Invest in research and professional training to better prepare educators for changing roles in supporting students' use of new and existing learning networks.

While many teachers are skillful in using digital technologies and in providing personalized learning experiences for students, most teachers were educated at a time when the dominant model was lecture-driven and textbook-based. Research is needed to generate new pedagogical approaches for a networked learning environment and to develop new ways of preparing teachers to thrive in such environments.

There is also a need for additional research on policies to support the shift to a new learning environment. Specifically, state policymakers need to rethink teacher-certification policies that fail to take into account the changing roles of teachers, as well as evaluation practices that do not consider teachers’ roles in forging links with other institutions. While there are some promising exceptions—Florida has been working to integrate competency components into teacher training for over a decade, passing a law in 2013 that provides a framework for offering a competency-based certification program—more work is necessary in this area.

Action F: Align teacher quality policies and professional development funding to ensure that educators have the necessary support, resources and skills to leverage technology and to enhance learning for their students.

Adapting to a new style of teaching involves orchestrating the use of technology for learning among a group of students, each of whom may be working at a different pace. This will pose a real challenge to teachers who are used to more traditional classroom methods. But, fortunately, the same network technology that can enhance and accelerate student learning can also be used to help teachers make this transition.

The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement encourages teachers to harness educational resources that are released with copyright licenses allowing for their free use, continuous improvement and modifications by others. The world is moving fast, and OER enable educators to access, customize and remix high-quality materials that incorporate state of the art teaching methods, contributing their own insights along the way. The sharing and re-use of educational materials moves one step beyond digital and free to allow remixing and redistribution and thus allows teachers to exchange materials and teaching methods they have created.

College and university education departments will also need to transform their pedagogies to support the training of new teachers’ styles and techniques.

Finally, online networks can and do support communications among teachers, parents and students outside the classroom. Just as parents can securely access medical records online, check their bank accounts or track the progress of a shipment, they should have the opportunity to monitor their child’s progress, homework assignments and other activities assigned by teachers.

DMU Timestamp: June 24, 2014 21:59

Added June 24, 2014 at 7:54pm
Reason: Section 8

EQUITY OF ACCESS - Findings and Recommendations

THE TASK FORCE FINDS:
  • To realize the benefits of the new learning opportunities, all young people need to be fully connected, which means having access to adequate broadband, hardware and software, as well as to sites, services and tools required for collaboration, creation and research. They also need access to high-quality content and the literacy skills to support full participation.
  • Nearly all the country's schools and libraries are now connected to the Internet at a basic level as a result of initiatives like the federal E-Rate program.
  • As educational use of computers, tablets, smartphones, HD video, gamification, peer-to-peer networks, interactive telepresence and the other applications of the Internet have grown, so has the demand for higher-performance broadband connectivity. As a result, current Internet connections in schools and libraries are becoming increasingly inadequate to support individualized technology-based learning for all students.
  • Current metrics indicate whether institutions (e.g., schools and libraries) are connected to broadband Internet; metrics need to be redefined to indicate whether individuals within the institutions have adequate connectivity.
  • Since technology makes it possible to learn any time and any place, connectivity beyond educational institutions is also important. Yet, for various reasons, nearly one-third of U.S. households have not adopted broadband Internet service.14
  • As mobile devices become an increasingly important means for accessing the Internet, there is a need to ensure access to broadband wireless networks. As technology advances, so must our schools. So new upgrades of devices, software and other high-technology learning opportunities as yet undeveloped will require continual investment and upgrades.
  • Filtering policies that place restrictions on the applications, services and tools accessible in schools and libraries vary by district and community. While the intent is to keep learners safe, overly restrictive policies can unintentionally block high-quality content for learning. A student who can view Wikipedia has access to content, but a student who can't get to Google Docs or to a Khan Academy video on YouTube still effectively doesn't have the full promise of broadband. Filtering can cripple the potential of broadband in certain circumstances.
  • Those with disabilities and learning differences may need special tools to access and participate in online learning.

In order for students to pursue their interests online, they need to have access to the resources required for learning. This begins with having physical connectivity to the Internet through a reliable, robust broadband connection. It is through broadband that students can access resources around the globe, or an instructor on the other side of the country, or expand their learning to times and places beyond the classroom. Broadband is also a vital mechanism for accelerating innovation and for fostering faster, more affordable distribution of services, content and tools for teachers and students.

Simply, learners need hardware and high-quality content to support their learning activities. And they need the literacy skills to be able to understand and navigate the digital environment.

Schools (and other community institutions) need to provide these resources along with the support structures that will help students use them well. But since learning often takes place beyond learning institutions, access to these resources at home and at other non-school locations is also important. Fortunately, the penetration of key technologies has increased as they have become less expensive, more powerful and easier to use. But real disparities remain, preventing all young people from enjoying the benefits of connected learning. Thirty percent of U.S. households have not yet adopted broadband service. Access to digital technology is lower among specific groups in society, including minorities, those with less education, rural residents, the elderly and the poor.

The current level of connectivity in schools and libraries is largely the result of the federal E-Rate program. Launched in 1997, E-Rate was designed to provide financial support to enable schools and libraries to get online. The program provides discounts of up to 90 percent to help eligible institutions obtain Internet access and internal connections. Eligible participants include public and private K-12 schools as well as all public and many private libraries.

Thanks to the E-Rate program, almost every school in the United States now has some connection to the Internet. But the use of computers and other smart devices in schools continues to expand rapidly, and thus far, the E-Rate does not cover their acquisition. While computers were once restricted to computer labs, Internet access is now available for 93 percent of the computers located in the classroom.15 Overall, schools now provide, on average, one Internet-connected computer for every 3.1 students, with many schools adopting 1:1 models where every student and teacher has a device.16

As the use of computers, smart devices and the Internet has grown in classrooms, both in terms of the intensity of student use and the bandwidth requirement of the applications being used, the capacity of many of these links is falling behind demand. According to the Federal Communications Commission, “In response to a 2010 Commission survey of E-rate funded schools and libraries, half of respondents reported slower connection speeds than the average American home and 39 percent cited cost of service as the greatest barrier to fully meeting their broadband needs.” In 2012, a survey conducted by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) found that nearly 80 percent of schools indicated that their broadband connections are inadequate to meet their needs.17

Substantial disparities in connectivity also exist among libraries. For example, while more than 90 percent of urban public libraries had broadband connections of at least 1.5 Mbps in 2007, less than half of rural libraries had connections that were that fast.18 Among the many reasons this is significant is the number of families that rely on libraries as their primary venue for accessing the Internet.19 Although average speeds have almost certainly increased since then, a gap between urban and rural libraries remains.

In June 2013, President Obama announced his ConnectED initiative that set an immediate target of at least 100 Mbps service to most schools and libraries, with a goal of providing speeds of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) within five years.20 The next month, the FCC took note of the changing connectivity needs of educational institutions and launched a review of its E-Rate program with the intention of increasing support for higher-capacity broadband in schools and libraries.21

In addition, the bipartisan LEAD Commission has also worked for over a year to accelerate digital learning in K-12 education. Its five-point blueprint urges federal, state, local, private and philanthropic sectors to expand the use of digital learning tools and resources in schools.22

These efforts point towards greater connectivity for each student in every school, but governments have not yet readied funding of student devices, or for support of those divides. Learner networks extend beyond the school, so it is important that broadband connectivity extend beyond schools and libraries. Between 2000 and 2013, home broadband access to the Internet grew from less than 5 percent of all U.S. households to 70 percent, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.23 The overall growth in broadband penetration seems to have largely leveled off in the past several years, however, leaving nearly one-third of households with no broadband service.

And Pew found that significant disparities among different groups in the population still exist:

  • 74 percent of white households have home broadband access compared to 64 percent of black households and 53 percent of Hispanic households;
  • 89 percent of college graduates have broadband access at home compared to 37 percent of those without a high school diploma;
  • Broadband penetration is much higher among those with a household income (HHI) of at least $75,000 (88 percent) than those with an HHI of less than $30,000 (54 percent); and
  • 70 percent of urban residents and 73 percent of suburban adults have broadband compared to 62 percent of rural Americans.
THE TASK FORCE RECOMMENDS:

RECOMMENDATION

3 Build an infrastructure that will connect all students in all of the places they learn.
Action G: Base the bandwidth needs of schools, libraries and other institutions not on the needs of the institution as a whole but on the collective needs of all learners that they serve.

When the first efforts were launched to connect schools and libraries to the Internet, it was typical for these institutions to have—at best—one or two computers per classroom along with a group of computers in a learning center and/or library.

Today, the number of access devices per institution has multiplied severalfold. Many institutions now have Wi-Fi capabilities that permit large numbers of individual devices to be simultaneously connected to a broadband network. The Task Force’s view of the future is a not-too-distant time when every student and every educator has a connected learning device, and possibly multiple devices, including laptops, tablets, smartphones and even wearable devices.

To fully realize the vision of the learner at the center of his or her learning networks, each learner will need sufficient connectivity to get access to the resources he or she needs at any time to meet his or her educational needs. Planning for an environment such as this will require a different set of calculations about the bandwidth needs of any educational institution, particularly given the high-bandwidth demands imposed by new online courses, multimedia content and more sophisticated assessments. School buses could even be equipped with robust connectivity to support learning in transit.24 Indeed, public “third places” tend to budget for at least one broadband device per customer, and private industry often budgets for two broadband devices per employee when planning for Wi-Fi.

Action H: Build innovative partnerships among the public and private sectors to bring broadband access to all learners.

The federal E-Rate program has been instrumental in providing a basic level of broadband connectivity to America’s schools and libraries. The Federal Communications Commission is currently in the process of reforming and expanding the E-Rate program to upgrade broadband to schools and libraries. The Task Force strongly supports the concept of E-Rate reform, as broadband connectivity to learners in schools and libraries is crucial to the vision of ubiquitous learning networks.

But private sector initiatives can also be helpful in expanding access to the Internet and reducing disparities. For example, Comcast’s Internet Essentials program provides low-income families with broadband service for $9.95 a month, the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150 and free digital literacy training along with access to educational resources such as the Khan Academy, which itself is free to all. In its first two years of operation, it has provided affordable broadband service to more than 250,000 households.25


HOME BROADBAND VS. DIAL-UP, 2000-2013
Percentage of American adults 18 years and older who access the internet via boradband vs. dial-up.
Source: www.perinternet.org/Trend-Data-%28Adults$29/Home-Broadband-Adoption.aspx


Public-private partnerships represent another promising approach to expanding online access. Several communities have developed partnerships to make local Wi-Fi networks more widely available to students. In Forsyth County, Georgia, for example, the local school district worked with the Chamber of Commerce to create a directory of free Wi-Fi locations in the community. Participating businesses are given a "free Wi-Fi" static cling to display in a prominent location at their business. A middle school in Manchester, Tennessee, that has equipped all sixth graders with iPads has convinced local businesses to open their Wi-Fi hot spots to students to maximize the benefits of their new technology tools.26

Action I: Ensure that all learners have access to appropriate devices that connect them to learning opportunities through a wide range of options that include BYOD (bring your own device), leasing and cooperative purchasing strategies.

The idea that every student would have on his or her desk a portable device that provides access to learning networks is still a novel one. But a small but growing number of school districts have undertaken efforts to enable all students to participate in personalized and collaborative learning by providing each of them with laptop computers or tablets.

Mooresville Graded Public School District, for example, is the third poorest in North Carolina, but is one of the highest performing school systems. The district reallocated budgets to pay for laptops, connectivity and digital textbooks for every student. Dropout rates have fallen 50 percent, test scores have risen 20 percent and 85 percent of their graduates go on to college. Dr. Mark Edwards, Mooresville Superintendent, believes that all districts can afford to make a digital conversion by establishing priorities, aligning resources, thoughtfully re-purposing funds and looking for cost efficiencies as well as productivity gains.27

As a complement to these efforts, districts are also adopting “Bring Your Own Technology” (BYOT) or “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies, which allow students to bring devices from home for use in learning. But because of inequities in the availability of home devices and concerns over security and maintenance, these policies are not always feasible. In response, many districts are also purchasing the devices for their students. The math works for every student to have his or her own device. The schools will have to solve this problem, most likely, through a blend of BYOD and group purchasing by the school district.

A few years ago, Forsyth County Schools in suburban Atlanta piloted BYOD and began to allow students to bring their own laptops, phones and tablets to school—and put them to use. Speaking to a group of superintendents, Jill Hobson, Director of Instructional Technology, said, “You’re already BYOT, but you won’t admit it.”28 She was referring to the fact that, despite policies to the contrary, most students bring their own technology to school, but schools ask them to power down and pretend they do not. Every school is a bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) school, but only a few acknowledge and leverage the fact.

While the Task Force views these devices as critical components to supporting new individualized learning opportunities, we recognize that simply providing hardware is not enough to transform learning. As Jim Stigler, associate dean for research and innovation at UCLA Division of Social Science, has commented in reference to the Los Angeles School District rollout of tablets to students, “I would guess that 10 percent of success will be due to the iPad, 30 percent the software and 60 percent the teaching that goes with the iPad. As long as people think the iPad itself is the main ingredient for success, it will probably fail. But if we invest seriously in improving teaching and software, the potential is huge.”29

Action J: Provide pathways to high-quality content, courses and educational experiences through platforms, applications and curation efforts by educators, students and parents.

At present, it is not easy for students or educators to find the content and tools relevant to their needs. Some resources have been developed to help meet this need. A recent example is Software PhD, a website created by a college administrator that has been described as a “Yelp” for higher education software. Launched in 2013, the site allows participants to post ratings and discuss educational software products. The site’s creator, Mark A. Baker of Whitworth University, developed it as a way to balance sales pitches from software companies with feedback from users.30 Graphite is a website for preK-12 teachers developed by the nonprofit Common Sense Media to help preK-12 educators by providing ratings and reviews of apps, games, websites and digital curricula contributed by other teachers. The Federal Registry for Educational Excellence (FREE) is a site created by the U.S. Department of Education that includes a directory of over 400,000 learning resources organized by subject and by standard. Gooru is a search engine specifically designed to help teachers internationally to find high quality interactive learning materials. New services like RankU are helping students find online higher education courses, while GreatSchools is providing ratings and reviews of schools in local communities. But more mechanisms to guide users to the most appropriate resources are needed that are trusted, easy to use and widely available.

Action K: Develop appropriate and effective filtering policies.

As noted above, the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires schools and libraries that receive funding from the federal E-Rate program to implement mechanisms that will block content deemed inappropriate to minors. In addition, many states have similar laws that require filtering by schools and libraries.31 It is certainly true that the Internet contains a good deal of content that is not appropriate for young people and that, in the absence of protective measures, this content is just one click away for any Internet user.

But current filtering solutions are a blunt instrument that can restrict access to valuable tools for applications as well as objectionable content. This problem has been recognized explicitly in the U.S. Department of Education’s National Technology Education Plan:

Ensuring student safety on the Internet is a critical concern, but many filters designed to protect students also block access to legitimate learning content and such tools as blogs, wikis and social networks that have the potential to support student learning and engagement.32

The Task Force calls for fresh, creative thinking to resolve the problem of protecting children without overly restricting their opportunities to learn. It believes one of the best ways to elicit these ideas is through competitions that offer prizes for the best new solutions. This approach to stimulating innovation has not only been used successfully by the private sector (in competitions such as those sponsored by the X Prize, (www.xprize.org), but also by government (see, for example, (www.challenge.gov). Competitions seem to be particularly effective in stimulating technical innovation. Consider, for example, the results of DARPA’s challenges to design a self-driving vehicle and to build more capable robots33 or the Netflix Prize for the best algorithm for identifying movies customers would like based on past preferences.34

Action L: Expand access to learning technologies for students with learning differences

Ensuring full access is also an issue for students with learning differences. These kinds of needs are not always taken fully into account by program developers, but technology can also offer them promising opportunities for full participation in learning networks. Currey Ingram Academy’s “learning commons” provides an interesting example of a public-private partnership to encourage collaboration among teachers and students. By empowering students to be critical and creative thinkers, it recognizes that every child learns differently.35

DMU Timestamp: June 24, 2014 21:59

Added June 24, 2014 at 7:56pm
Reason: Section 9

INTEROPERABILITY - Findings and Recommendations

THE TASK FORCE FINDS:
  • Students need to have wide access to resources online, to connect easily with others who can support their learning and to have the ability to share their ideas widely.
  • Learners must be able to pursue their interests and share their data across different learning networks in order to maximize their learning.
  • Although there has been rapid growth in resources to support networked learning, much of this material exists in separate silos, proprietary formats or closed systems.
  • Ensuring interoperability of learning networks and of the resources they contain is critical to maximizing their value, including their ability to be affordable and sustainable.

In theory, broadband Internet provides students with virtually unlimited access to resources that they can use to further their learning. The Internet makes vast libraries of information available online as well as the riches of museums and other cultural institutions. E-science projects give students direct access to powerful tools (like telescopes and electronic microscopes) that they can use to engage in high-level research. MOOCs, which are openly accessible to all, provide access to courses from some of the country’s top colleges and universities. Open Educational Resources, which are freely available for all to re-use, revise, remix or redistribute, allow educators and learners to build on others’ work, with appropriate attribution, rather than always starting from scratch. Online social networks make it possible for learners to find and collaborate with others with common interests.

But too often these resources exist in separate silos or in closed systems, which limits their value, or in proprietary formats, which can be restrictive. If students are going to be able to assemble their own learning resources to create a personalized customized curriculum for themselves, they need the widest possible access to these resources and the ability to combine and “re-mix” them. Similarly, if they are to get credit for their learning experiences, a uniform system of accreditation is needed that works across all available platforms. And students need to manage their identity in different systems, through mechanisms such as “data backpacks.” Over and above the value of any individual resource, great value resides in the ability of these resources to interoperate. It is impossible to have a seamless connected learning experience without interoperability, assured secure transferability of data and the persistence of one’s identity.

THE TASK FORCE RECOMMENDS:

RECOMMENDATION

4 Support the maximum feasible degree of interoperability across learning networks.
Action M: Adopt open standards and protocols that simplify and promote interoperability of learning resources.

The financial services industry provides an example of how the adoption of standards has made possible global networks for financial transactions. These range from the transfer of bank funds among commercial entities to networks that allow individuals to make deposits, get cash and perform other functions at ATMs anywhere in the world with a high degree of confidence in their security. Though not as advanced as financial services, and not without its own set of problems, the health care field is engaged in efforts to allow better sharing of secure personal electronic medical records while protecting patient privacy.

In education, the Common Core State Standards represent a major effort by a majority of states to create enough commonality in academic standards to make it possible to create common instructional resources and evaluate student performance across schools. Common Core also creates an “interoperability” of resources and instruction among states that was impossible when there were 50 different standards. This not only helps teachers but also makes it easier for content creators to develop materials once and share it across the nation. Even if a state does not adopt the Common Core State Standards, there needs to be means for students to have access to resources across state borders.

There are many different strategies that can be pursued to enable interoperability across learning networks. These range from the adoption of templates to ensure commonality of format and structure for learning resources to the use of metadata tagging to simplify discovery and re-use of materials.

One promising effort to promote interoperability is the Learning Resources Metadata Initiative (LRMI), which has developed a schema for describing, or “tagging.” materials on the web to help learners or educators find and use appropriate learning resources.36 The LRMI has created a common framework that can be used to add education-specific metadata to learning resources that will be recognized by major search engines. The Ed-Fi Alliance (www.ed-fi.org) is also advancing the use of technology and standards that provide the foundation for enabling interoperability among secure education data systems designed to improve student achievement and teacher satisfaction. Finally, the voluntary Common Education Data Standards (ceds.ed.gov/) is the result of a national collaborative effort to develop voluntary, common data standards for a key set of education data elements to streamline the exchange, comparison, and understanding of data within and across education institutions.

Furthermore, as noted in the discussion under Action D above, “data backpacks” or similar concepts of student-owned data can allow for mobility and interoperability as students move from school to school or along their own learning networks.

This should include the use of protocols and open standards to transfer learning from source to learner, learner outputs to accreditation entities, or just to take one’s school data with him or her, moving to another learning environment.

Action N: As a condition of funding, require developers of learning networks and learning resources to make provisions to ensure interoperability.

Funders can help to ensure the widest possible use of resources developed with their support by requiring the use of open standards that promote sharing. Funders should also consider supporting projects that focus specifically on creating mechanisms that enable sharing of resources.

DMU Timestamp: June 24, 2014 21:59

Added June 24, 2014 at 7:59pm
Reason: Section 9

DIGITAL AGE LITERACIES - Findings and Recommendations

THE TASK FORCE FINDS:
  • One of the most effective ways of keeping young people safe online is to equip them with the knowledge and skills to understand and respond appropriately to the risks they may encounter on the Internet and mobile platforms.
  • The same literacy skills that help keep young people safe online are also critical in enabling them to take full advantage of online learning opportunities.
  • The literacies that young people need encompass media literacy, digital literacy and social-emotional literacy.
  • Researchers have identified critical components of these literacies, and many schools now provide some training in these skills, but no widely accepted standards or curriculum exist for consistent teaching of these three literacies.

Educators understand that students today need not only to master the basic skills of reading, writing and computation but must also develop higher-level skills. The Common Core State Standards, which 44 states have adopted, strike a balance between the basics and the 21st-century skills—critical thinking, problem solving and creativity—that every child needs in order to thrive in a rapidly evolving, networked world.37

While these higher-level abilities are important, educators increasingly recognize that young people need additional competencies that enable effective use of the tools of our networked world: today's social, digital media and technologies. Specifically, all students need to develop digital age literacies.

Media literacy refers to the ability to understand, interpret and use different forms of media: books, hypertext, videos, podcasts and much more. These media employ different grammars and vocabularies and require different skills for searching and producing as well as consuming. Media literacy requires users to understand the intricacies of intellectual property, from respecting copyrights to the importance of fair use to the ability to share, with attribution, under a Creative Commons license. Media literacy training started in the era of one-way mass media but has evolved to embrace today’s multidirectional new media as well.38

Digital literacy refers to fluency in the use and security of interactive digital tools and searchable networks. This literacy includes the ability to use them safely and effectively for learning, collaborating and producing. It also protects against network-based crime such as phishing and malicious hacking.

Social-emotional literacy refers to the ability to “understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others and make responsible decisions.” 39 Educators and researchers increasingly recognize the importance of these abilities in learning in collaborative and social environments online or off-line.

Because so much of today's media is distributed digitally and is highly interactive or social, the literacies described above—digital, media and social-emotional—are becoming virtually inseparable. Together, we refer to them as the "digital age literacies."

Literacy and Online Safety. Academic research and previous U.S. task forces have established digital, media and social-emotional literacies as important components of Internet safety education. For example, after a thorough research review, the 2008 Internet Safety Technical Task Force concluded that (1) the most salient risks that children encounter online are harassment and bullying, not contact with strangers, and (2) that a child’s psychosocial makeup and home and school environments were better predictors of online risk than any technology the child uses.40 These findings highlight the importance of social-emotional literacy to children’s well-being in social environments both online and off-line as well as in connected learning.

Certainly the Task Force is aware of the tragedies of teen suicides and other unfortunate results from cyberbullying. While there are effects unique to the Internet—e.g., rapid distribution and its always-on nature—these crises and tragedies are not limited to online spaces. Whether on or off-line, students need social-emotional skills to cope and thrive both socially and academically.41 Engaging an entire school community in social-emotional learning helps create a trusted environment for learning online and off-line.

The 2009-10 Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG) proposed a framework for online risk prevention education that includes teaching literacy skills. In its report to Congress, the OSTWG recommended that educators adopt the public health model of Primary/Secondary/Tertiary “levels of prevention” for Internet risk prevention, with the Primary level being basic literacy education, the Secondary level being more targeted education for when problems arise, and the Tertiary level being specific prevention and intervention efforts with young people with established patterns of risk-taking in their lives.42

Unfortunately, current Internet safety education programs have largely failed to provide effective risk-prevention education. A 2012 report from the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center (CCRC) found that many current Internet safety programs “lack (1) research-based messages, (2) skill-based learning objectives, (3) opportunities for youth to practice new skills and (4) sufficient time for learning” and reported that “there is no evidence that the messages will succeed in making youth safer or help them make decisions that will improve their well-being.” The report concluded that “Internet safety” has been presented as an overly “broad and shifting mix of concerns, which make it difficult to create comprehensive program logic around the entire problem.”43


DIGITAL AGE LITERACIES


THE TASK FORCE RECOMMENDS:

RECOMMENDATION

5 Adopt policies to incorporate digital, media and social-emotional literacies as basic skills for living and learning in the digital age.

States and districts should adopt policies to ensure that digital, media and social-emotional literacies are taught as basic skills, not as an “extra” or an “afterthought.” These literacies should be embedded into all appropriate core subjects rather than be taught as a separate course.

These digital age literacies encompass not just the technical skills but also competency in navigating the social nature of participatory media. Much as reading has always been a fundamental skill for successful learning, in today’s world, media, digital and social-emotional literacies are critical to success.

Action O: Adopt open standards and protocols that simplify and promote interoperability of learning resources.

To encourage the development of digital, media and social-emotional literacies, states and districts should develop competency-based systems for recognizing the acquisition of these skills. For example, Autism Expressed (www.autismexpressed.com) is an online platform designed to teach digital literacy skills to students with autism. To “help students feel empowered by their new skills” and to reinforce students’ progress, each lesson completed unlocks a “digital badge” that can be kept in a student’s badge library.

Similarly, a program called DIG/IT in the New York City schools uses badges to document students’ achievements in a course that teaches digital literacy along with financial literacy and college-preparation skills.44 When students have the opportunity to learn digital age media, they can open up a new world of opportunities. For example, at one Nashville magnet school, a student-run music label, in partnership with industry experts, is helping transform a low-performing school.45

Digital Badge for "Internet Basics"
Source:www.generocity.org/2012/for-students-with-autism-an-online-tool-to-level-the-playing-field

Action P: Fund the development and use of online programs and innovative peer platforms to build digital age literacies in adults, youth and parents.

A number of useful resources for teaching digital and media literacies can be found online. Several organizations have developed curriculum materials to support digital literacy training and put them online. For example, Common Sense Media has created a sequenced digital literacy curriculum that goes from primary through secondary grades and is freely available online in both English and Spanish (www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/scope-and-sequence). The lessons are explicitly aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

The New Media Literacies Program at the University of Southern California offers an online library of resources intended to help teachers incorporate media literacy training into traditional academic subjects (www.newmedialiteracies.org/teachers-strategy-guide). Its guide to Reading in a Participatory Culture provides downloadable materials that provide “strategies for integrating the tools, approaches and methods of Comparative Media Studies into the English and Language Arts classroom.”

Several tech companies, including Google46, Mozilla47 and Microsoft48, have created materials to teach and provide resources for digital and media literacy.

And community-based programs such as YouMedia (www.youmedia.org) foster literacy skills by providing young people with hands-on training in the use of media, particularly to support collaboration and creative expression. YouMedia now has sites in Chicago, Washington, Miami, New York and Philadelphia, but most communities still do not have comparable facilities.

Action Q: Research existing state educational curricula that already include digital age literacies to identify best practices and gaps that need to be filled.

Though the teaching of media, digital and social-emotional literacies is far from universal, there are many places where these skills can be learned. In some cases they are free-standing programs, and in other cases they are integrated into the curriculum for other subjects. However, there is a wide variability in how these programs are designed and implemented, and few programs integrate all three types of literacies. It would be extremely useful to look at the experience of programs across the country to determine what is working and where more needs to be done. Scholars such as Michael RobbGrieco and Renee Hobbs have provided useful overviews of the state of media literacy programs in the United States49, but more systematic research will help provide a more detailed account of the field and help identify gaps needing to be filled.

Action R: Ensure that digital age literacies are incorporated in the Common Core State Standards implementation.

The Common Core State Standards, adopted by a majority of states in 2010 to improve the quality of education, do recognize the importance of these literacy skills and the need to integrate them broadly into what is being taught in the schools:

To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, report on and create... print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to research and to consume and produce media is embedded into every element of today’s curriculum.50

As this language suggests, digital and media literacy skills are being recognized as important for a wide range of purposes, including the ability to function successfully as a worker, as a consumer and as a citizen. This recognition needs to be incorporated in the implementation of the standards by state departments of education, school leaders and teachers. They should be integrated into the Common Core and integral to teaching in states where Common Core has not been adopted as well.

Action S: Make digital age literacies required skills for all educators and expected of parents.

If schools increase connectivity but do not shift resources and expectations around the use of digital media, then the connectivity efforts will be wasted. Teachers, as well as their students, need to be competent with digital age literacies in order to help their students take advantage of the new digital learning tools and become active participants in learning networks. This kind of literacy training should be part of all teacher-training programs and be incorporated into ongoing in-service training for working educators.

Parents should also have the skills and resources to help their children bolster digital, media and social-emotional literacies. Children are in front of electronic screens at increasingly early ages. Parents are looking for answers to what is best for their children in this environment. As the American Association of Pediatricians suggests, every parent should develop a family media use plan.51 In that process, parents will want to become more literate in and comfortable with the new digital environment.

Action T: Along with Action Z, integrate risks related to digital life into all existing risk-prevention education programs.

The 2012 study from the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center cited above found that the most common Internet safety education (ISE) programs in the United States “combine messages about any or all of the following topics: cyberbullying, problematic content (e.g., videos of fights, inappropriate pictures), Internet predators, sexting, spam, e-theft and illegal downloading.” The authors of the study note that “most people would find it strange to have a one-hour presentation for youth that covered driving safety, safe sex, the dangers of drug use, and plagiarism. Most of us would think that these very different issues needed to be handled separately using different educational tactics.”

The Task Force believes that the various topics now lumped together under the rubric of ISE (e.g., sexting and cyberbullying) would be more effectively taught as part of existing risk-prevention education programs since these behaviors and risks aren’t new as much as they are taking place in a new medium. Moreover, risk-prevention educators need training in social and digital media and in youth practices with these media in order to integrate digital practices and behaviors into their risk-prevention instruction.

All educators need to recognize the importance of literacy skill training as foundational to children’s safety and efficacy online as well as off-line. As Task Force member Anne Collier has written:

“What protects children online is what protects them off-line. These are: life skills, literacies, and safeguards that are both internal—respect for self and others, resilience, empathy and a strong inner guidance system (sometimes called a moral compass)—and external—such as good modeling, parenting and teaching by caring adults, peer mentoring, instruction in digital and media literacy, social-emotional learning, protective technology used thoughtfully, family and school rules, well-designed digital environments, and well-established laws against discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and crime.”52

Finally, it is important that children and families who are dealing with the more serious issues and the outcomes from bullying/sexting seek help for social-emotional issues online just as they would in the physical world. School counselors, mental health professionals, therapists and psychiatrists should be a part of the overall solution and help develop the skill sets to move beyond these very real issues that may also impact a child’s educational attainment and dropout rates.53


COMMON SENSE MEDIA DIGITAL LITERACY CURRICULUM TOPICS


COMMUNITY VOICES:
My company hires people based on skills, and a number of our best employees have no degrees. When we hire, we don't care about the degree but do care about an interest in lifelong learning. Badges would tell us more about an individual's ongoing commitment versus their degree five years ago.
- Jamie Hollier, Anneal

DMU Timestamp: June 24, 2014 21:59

Added June 24, 2014 at 8:02pm
Reason: Section 11

TRUSTED ENVIRONMENT - Findings and Recommendations

THE TASK FORCE FINDS:
  • Many online behaviors that have raised concerns among parents, such as bullying or stereotyping, are not new or unique to the online world but have their roots and analogs in off-line behaviors. Their remedies should be integrated into those already in place for dealing with real-world problems.
  • Parents, educators and others responsible for the welfare of young people have real concerns about the safety and privacy of children online.
  • To confidently pursue their learning goals, students need an environment where their safety and privacy are protected.
  • Ensuring student privacy is especially critical in networked environments that involve multiple entities providing services to students.
  • Data collection and use are crucial to fulfilling the vision of personalized learning, yet for some there is a lack of trust around the security and privacy of student data.
  • Approaches to providing safety online that are defensive and fear-based are often ineffective and can have the unintended consequence of significantly restricting learning opportunities for young people.
  • There is a need to explore alternative approaches that create trusted environments that protect learners' safety, privacy and security without compromising their ability to pursue their interests.
  • Although technology is partly responsible for creating fear, it can be part of the solution by helping create trusted environments. But equally important is equipping learners, parents and educators with the skills to function online safely and effectively.

Realizing the benefits of learning networks will necessitate a commitment to establishing trust with teachers, parents and students that children will have safe experiences online and that sensitive personal information is securely protected. Trust is a prerequisite for learning that is based on students exploring online resources, taking online courses and engaging with different educational partners. Without trust, the ultimate success of networked learning could be in jeopardy.

Unfortunately, too much of the public discourse about children online emphasizes the dangers of the Internet and does not give enough attention to the positive potential of the technology as a tool for learning. Rather than relying on purely defensive measures for protection (like filtering and monitoring and other forms of restriction), parents and educators need to help create “trusted environments” that allow young people to pursue their interests safely.

A trusted environment exists when all stakeholders have confidence in using technology to engage in learning. It involves policies, tools and practices that effectively address the privacy, safety and security concerns related to learning online. It involves parents being able to trust that their children’s personally identifiable information is safe, secure and won’t be used in ways other than to help their academic progress. A framework for trust will emerge from conversations among local stakeholders that grapple with key questions related to students:

  • Safety: Am I physically and emotionally safe?
  • Privacy: Is my data being used appropriately? Do I have access to my data and records? Do I have the ability to determine how my data is used, by whom and under what circumstances?
  • Security: Am I confident that my data is secure? Are there adequate protections against unauthorized access?

Promising approaches such as “privacy by design,” “kid-readable disclosures,” “identity management tools,” and “trust framework architectures” need to be developed and tested. In addition to pursuing technology-based approaches, it is also important to give learners and parents the skills to navigate through the online world safely and successfully.

THE TASK FORCE RECOMMENDS:

RECOMMENDATION

6 Create Trusted Environments for Learning.
Action U: Foster collaborative efforts at all levels to establish principles of a Trusted Environment for Learning.

The goal of such a trust framework is to protect young people while empowering them to explore, express themselves, pursue their interests and succeed in their education. The Task Force recognizes a trusted environment is not easy to define precisely and will not be simple to construct. It will require innovative approaches to policy and regulation, new technological solutions and the development of programs that educate teachers, parents and students about the risks and rewards of being online. It will constantly evolve as new technologies introduce new tensions and offer new solutions.

The best approach to establishing trusted environments is to have all stakeholders—including learning professionals, civic officials, local associations, parents, teachers, students and businesses—collaborate in setting local standards. This could also be done at state and national levels.

To help this process along, the Task Force has identified an initial set of high-level principles intended to guide the process for developing a trusted environment. Key characteristics of such an environment might include:

Transparency and Openness. Require easy-to-read disclosures to enable learners and other stakeholders to clearly understand who is participating, what the norms and protections are, what data is collected and how it is used.

Participation. Provide opportunities for individual and interest group participation in decision making and policy making related to the development and deployment of connected learning solutions.

Data Stewardship. Find ways to protect data that may include mechanisms to reduce the risk of harm, such as clearly delimiting the permissible uses of data, de-identifying sensitive data and/or deleting data once it no longer has value for learning. Data can also be used to provide feedback about what works, thereby shortening the cycle to improve the ecosystem of learning networks.

Technology Innovation. Create and deploy technologies that support a trusted environment, such as the use of metadata to convey and enforce data policy or privacy dashboards that indicate what information is shared with whom.

Accountability. Adopt policies and procedures or a code of conduct that support responsible learning environments.

Oversight and Enforcement. Establish regulatory arrangements to protect the integrity of learning networks with competent and appropriately-resourced bodies in place to enforce these principles.

These principles can guide governmental, nonprofit and corporate institutions as they create their plans for digitizing learning. The Task Force recommends that these principles focus on capabilities needed to be successful in college and careers, such as collaboration, communications, assessment and creation of content, rather than on the device or the tool, since those are constantly changing.

Action V: Invest in deeper research and studies on the efficacy of existing federal privacy laws, such as COPPA, CIPA and FERPA, as well as various state laws, and seek recommendations on how to improve and modernize them or develop more effective alternatives to support learning networks.

Policy makers have responded to the concerns of parents and child safety advocates by creating a patchwork of legal and regulatory mechanisms intended to protect young people online (see Sidebar).54 Typically, these initiatives place restrictions on operators of websites or applications that are used by children. The most prominent federal law, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), requires websites used by young people to obtain explicit parental permission before they can collect any “personal information” from children under age 13, along with other provisions governing marketing aimed at children.

Critics of COPPA point out that it was developed before the emergence of many cloud-based services, online resources and social media and fails to address the new media environment.55 For example, while children under age 13 can legally provide personal information with their parents' permission, many websites simply bar underage children from using their services due to the additional work involved in complying with the provisions of COPPA. This has had the unintended consequence of encouraging children to make use of sites that do not attempt to enforce COPPA’s restrictions and that may be less conscientious about protecting young users. And by identifying a specific age to trigger its provisions, the law gives no protection to children over that age. In short, critics suggest, the law is overly restrictive and, arguably, relatively ineffective.

The Task Force sees a mismatch between current legal and regulatory approaches and the real needs of young people. It recognizes that Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Education, other agencies and individual states are all actively working on these important but sometimes emotional issues. The Task Force urges these policy makers to base their deliberations on evidence-based research. Accordingly, it calls on philanthropy and policymakers to support rigorous studies by skilled researchers of the strengths and limitations of these approaches, as we do not want to so overprotect our young learners that they do not have access to high-quality content. The Task Force also calls on funders to support researchers, legal scholars, or panels of experts to develop new approaches, tools and practices that could overcome these limitations.

Action W: Design, implement and evaluate technology-based approaches to providing a trust framework that addresses privacy and safety issues while permitting learners to pursue online learning.

Data on student learning, when collected properly and used appropriately, can be a vital tool for personalizing instruction and providing feedback on their progress. For example, with the Teach to One model, each student receives a unique daily schedule (called a “playlist”) based on his or her unique strengths and needs. The underlying data also allows for adjustments to the student’s schedule in order to better accommodate their ability and preferred learning method (e.g., within small groups or one on one with a teacher). Teachers can view real-time data on each student's achievement and adjust their instruction accordingly. Data empowers not just personalized learning using online resources from a variety of providers but also more informed teaching to ensure students are receiving the right resources, at the right time, in the right method.

Parents and others continue to be concerned about adequate protection of data in the learning process. Responses to this concern that completely close learning networks may offer some protections but also will hamper rich personalized learning and limit exposure to educational opportunities, resources and courses offered online. Important lessons can be drawn from the privacy work done in other sectors, such as health care, where regulations have struck a balance between protecting personal information in electronic medical records and enabling the sharing of data among doctors, nurses and other providers.

The Task Force recognizes the importance of protecting personal data and privacy. Indeed it becomes even more important in a networked learning environment, and systems will likely fail where such protections are not sufficiently taken into account. But given the enormous potential for supporting individualized learning through the collection and interpretation of student performance data, it is critical that rules and regulations be balanced between protecting sensitive data and ensuring students have access to a high quality education. The White House Big Data and Privacy Working Group Review, issued May 1, 2014, takes a similar twin goal approach: protect privacy and encourage innovation in education.56

Action X: As a condition of funding, require developers of learning networks and learning resources to make provisions to ensure interoperability.

The Task Force recognizes that not every concern about privacy or safety online is amenable to a technological solution. But there are some areas where the sophisticated use of privacy-enhancing technology can help create a more trusted environment for young people. Rather than relying entirely on young people to take all of the steps necessary to protect their own privacy, website operators and app developers could build in safeguards through a process of “privacy by design.”

For example, credit card companies have established a Trust Framework architecture, in which each individual is given a unique digital identifier to protect against fraud. Developers of educational devices and platforms should explore Trust Framework architecture to provide a technical solution to the privacy and safety issues and more effectively enable children to explore their interests online for learning purposes. They should utilize data to focus on learner needs and capacity, creating safe tools and environments for learning. One example might be a tool that allows students access to their own data to encourage agency and allow the students to help define their learning pathway. This tool could be similar to the electronic medical records used in the health care arena where records are portable and transferable. Data from schools and from other avenues of a child’s life can create a fuller picture of his or her progress, goals and interests.

One approach provides tools that enable users to keep tabs on their own data collection and control their sharing with their peers in an open and safe space. The system, known as Open Mustard Seed, employs “trusted computer cells” (the basic units of individual control over data) that enable users to manage privacy settings and data collection and manage their digital personas (who has access to what information about me).57 Service providers and app developers should also provide in-service user education on how to manage one’s privacy and safety.

Action Y: Fund public awareness campaigns about the importance of and methods for acting safely and responsibly on and off-line.

These campaigns could include public service announcements that empower individuals (young and old) to “manage their digital reputations,” watch out for one another and otherwise act responsibly online as well as understand that risks exist both on and off-line and there are ways to keep risk from turning into harm.58 Ideally, such campaigns would highlight the benefits of being online as well as the potential dangers that can be mitigated through digital literacy and other user education. Businesses could devote corporate resources to this effort just as they have done effectively with “Don’t TXT and drive”59 or “Stop.Think.Connect.”60

Action Z: Arm learners with the capability to protect themselves online through appropriate risk prevention education and teaching digital, media and social-emotional literacies.

Media, digital and social-emotional literacies are “internal” tools to help keep one safe—the “filtering software” in their heads that’s with them wherever they go throughout their lives, typically improving with use. The Internet is a global medium beyond the control of authorities in the United States or any one country. A single country cannot legislate to keep all dangerous content off the web, and even if it did, bad actors will be out there. The best, first defense for protecting young people, online or off-line, is to arm them, starting at an early age, with the capabilities to understand their environment and how to optimize their safety and privacy within it (see Action T).

For instance, the International Telecommunications Union has launched a global partnership for online protection which includes entities as varied as UNICEF, Disney, First Ladies and a small nonprofit in Nigeria. They have proposed Guidelines for Child Online Protection (COP) for ministers, parents, educators and the industry worldwide that include digital age literacies.61

DMU Timestamp: June 24, 2014 21:59

Added June 24, 2014 at 8:04pm
Reason: Section 12

CONCLUSION

A NOTE ON IMPLEMENTATION

There are a number of ways these action steps can be implemented. Many start with funding, of course, and we recommend that federal, state and local governments all take steps to fund pilots, experimentation and eventually full implementation of the steps called for in this report. Many of these recommendations can be embedded in existing funding streams that already support schools, libraries and nonprofits. We also call on philanthropies and businesses to mobilize support, funding and action around these action steps. With regard to the latter, businesses can not only fund through their corporate giving and employee assistance but also engage innovatively, such as by making their Wi-Fi hotspots available to students in their communities, building new privacy tools into their services and making their products interoperable with others. School districts can also collaborate in new partnerships that will take advantage of the experience and knowledge of other school districts, public agencies or private businesses.

The Task Force has also called for innovative ways of bringing its recommendations to fruition. One approach it finds particularly useful is the prize competition that is spelled out in Action L above. We urge funders to sponsor such prizes in response to other Action recommendations as well.

Policy makers will need to take bold steps to bring to fruition the vision of the United States as a country of learners. It is our tradition, as is innovation in new technologies. Now the confluence of the two is posing a challenge to America’s education system. There may be risks involved in moving forward in a bold way, and there will no doubt be strong differences of opinion. But the opportunity is too significant for our country’s legislators, regulators or officials not to move with a sense of urgency in this area for the benefit of all learners, now and for future generations.

Most importantly, it will be on the shoulders of each parent, each teacher and each student to undertake the hard work of moving forward with a leap into the future.


CONCLUSION

Digital disruption has brought radical changes to many businesses and institutions. The networked society offers many opportunities for individuals to realize their potential, embark on a path of lifelong learning and become more-qualified workers and citizens. The United States must find ways to take advantage of these opportunities for the good of the country and its citizens.

The vision outlined in this report and the action steps included in it represent the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet’s ideas about how the United States can move forward. With the touchstone of putting the learner/student at the center of learning networks, it provides four additional pillars for action: access, interoperability, literacy and trust. The action steps throughout the document complement one another. While individual steps are important to achieving the vision, their efficacy increases if adopted as a unified whole. Businesses, as well as governments, educators, parents and other stakeholders, need to step forward and answer this call for action.

As we see it, all citizens and stakeholders have a role to play in carrying out these recommendations. The Task Force urges all affected parties—parents, educators, policy makers, businesspeople, academics, concerned citizens, students—to determine what part they can play to make the potential of learning networks a reality. What action steps can they take, devise resolutions for, join, fund or encourage? For the sake of all young people, and for the future of the United States, these steps are urgent. Please join us at www.aspentaskforce.org.


ENDNOTES

  1. A. Pendleton-Jullian, Design Education and Innovation Ecotones, 2009. pp. 7-8,https://sites.google.com/site/annpjull/Home?APJ_paper_14.pdf.
  2. Marina Gorbis, “The Future Of Education Eliminates the Classroom, Because the World Is Your Class,” Fast Company Futurist Forum, March 4, 2013,www.fastcoexist.com/1681507/the-future-of-education-eliminates-the-classroom-because-the-world-is-your-class. For the Institute for the Future’s view of the evolution of education, see www.iftf.org/our-work/global-landscape/learning/from-educational-institutions-to-learning-flows.
  3. Jamie McGee, “Students Enhance Learning with Betty's Brain Software, The Tennessean, February 21, 2014,www.tennessean.com/article/20140221/BUSINESS04/302210057/Students-enhance-learning-Betty-s-Brain-software.
  4. KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem, 2013, http://knowledgeworks.org/future-of-learning.
  5. Jeanne Bernish, “Catch a Glimpse into the Future of Learning,” KnowledgeWorks, July 16, 2013,http://knowledgeworks.org/worldoflearning/catch-a-glimpse-into-the-future-of-learning.
  6. For a report on the experience of YouMedia in Chicago, see Kiley Larsen et al., Safe Space and Shared Interest: YOUmedia Chicago as a Laboratory for Connected Learning, 2013, http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/SAFE-SPACE-final-with-addenda.pdf.
  7. For a definition of connected learning, see http://connectedlearning.tv/what-is-connected-learning.
  8. Mizuko Ito et al., Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design(Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub, 2013),http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/ConnectedLearning_report.pdf.
  9. Paul Fain, “A Disruption Grows Up,” Inside Higher Ed (October 1, 2012),www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/01/competency-based-education-may-get-boost#ixzz2jEXzEdoh
  10. Paul Fain, “Competent at What?” Inside Higher Ed (December 12, 2013),www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/12/12/lumina-funded-group-seeks-lead-conversation-competency-based-education#ixzz2pTCKJfAS.
  11. Mozilla Open Badges, https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges
  12. John Bailey et al., Data Backpacks: Portable Records & Learner Profiles (Digital Learning Now, 2012), http://digitallearningnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/DLN-Smart-Series-Databack-Final1.pdf.
  13. George Anders, “Declara CEO Ramona Pierson Goes Where Others Don't Dare,” Forbes, December 27, 2013,www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2013/12/27/declara-ceo-ramona-pierson-goes-where-others-dont-dare.
  14. Kathryn Zickuhr and Aaron Smith, “Home Broadband 2013,” Pew Research Center, August 26, 2013, http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/08/26/home-broadband-2013/.
  15. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.Teachers' Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools, 2009,https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=46 .
  16. National Center for Educational Statistics, Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: Fall 2008, , 2010,http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2010/2010034.pdf
  17. Christine Fox et al., The Broadband Imperative: Recommendations to Address K-12 Education Infrastructure Needs (State Educational Directors Association, 2013), www.setda.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=353&name=DLFE-1517.pdf.
  18. Erica Pastore and Everett Henderson, “Libraries Use Broadband Internet Service to Serve High Need Communities,” Data Note, no.1(Mar., 2009),www.imls.gov/assets/1/workflow_staging/News/632.PDF.
  19. “More than half of young adults and seniors living in poverty in the United States used
    public libraries to access the internet, find work, apply to college, secure government benefits,
    and learn about critical medical treatments,” American Library Association, The State of America’s Libraries: A Report of the American Library Association, 2014,” special issue, American Libraries Magazine (2014): 17,http://www.ala.org/news/sites/ala.org.news/files/content/2014-State-of-Americas-Libraries-Report.pdf
  20. White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “President Obama Unveils ConnectED Initiative to Bring America’s Students into Digital Age,” news release, June 6, 2013, www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/06/president-obama-unveils-connected-initiative-bring-america-s-students-di.
  21. Federal Communications Commission, “FCC Launches Update of E-Rate for Broadband in Schools and Libraries,” news release, July 19, 2013,www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-launches-update-e-rate-broadband-schools-libraries.
  22. LEAD Commission, “Paving a Path Forward for Digital Learning in the United States,” n.d.,http://www.leadcommission.org/sites/default/files/LEAD%20Commission%20Blueprint.pdf.
  23. Kathryn Zickuhr and Aaron Smith, “Home Broadband 2013” (Pew Internet and American Life Project, August 26, 2013),http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Broadband/Findings.aspx.
  24. See, for example, Brian Peteritas, “Wi-Fi Turns School Buses into Study Halls,” Governing, August 28, 2012, www.governing.com/idea-center/wi-fi-turns-school-buses-into-study-halls.html.
  25. Jeff Baumgartner, “Comcast's ‘Internet Essentials’ Passes 1 Million Mark,”Multichannel News, October 29, 2013,www.multichannel.com/distribution/comcasts-%E2%80%98internet-essentials%E2%80%99-passes-1-million-mark/146349.
  26. “Flipping Instruction On Its Head,” Classroom Chronicles, October 30, 2013,http://tnclassroomchronicles.org/flipping-instruction-on-its-head/.
  27. Alan Schwartz, “Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops),” New York Times, February 12, 2012,www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/education/mooresville-school-district-a-laptop-success-story.html.
  28. Tom Vander Ark, “You’re Already BYOT but You Won’t Admit It,” Getting Smart, July 9, 2011, http://gettingsmart.com/2011/07/youre-already-byot-but-you-wont-admit-it.
  29. Daniel B. Wood, “An iPad for Every Student? What Los Angeles School District Is Thinking,” Christian Science Monitor, August 28, 2013,www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2013/0828/An-iPad-for-every-student-What-Los-Angeles-school-district-is-thinking.
  30. Megan O'Neil, “College Registrar Creates the ‘Yelp’ of Higher-Education Software,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 13, 2014,http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/college-registrar-creates-the-yelp-of-higher-education-software/49267.
  31. National Conference of State Legislatures, “Laws Relating to Filtering, Blocking and Usage Policies in Schools and Libraries, State Filtering/Blocking Laws,” January 9, 2014,www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/state-internet-filtering-laws.aspx.
  32. U.S. Department of Education, “Balancing Connectivity and Student Safety on the Internet,” n.d., www.ed.gov/technology/draft-netp-2010/balancing-connectivity-student-safety-internet.
  33. Gary Marcus, “DARPA’s Robot Challenge,” New Yorker, June 27, 2013,www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/06/darpas-new-challenge-build-a-back-flipping-robot.html
  34. Netflix Prize, www.netflixprize.com.
  35. Curry Ingram Academy, “The Learning Commons; a Glorified Library? Part Two,” November 30, 2012,http://www.curreyingram.org/podium/default.aspx?t=204&nid=818957&bl=back&rc=0
  36. Learning Resources Metadata Initiative, www.lrmi.net/about.
  37. Common Core State Standards, www.corestandards.org.
  38. Clay Shirky's 2009 talk at the U.S. State Department, where he said "we're witnessing "the largest increase in expressive capability in human history,” references this multi-dimensionality: http://blogs.worldbank.org/psd/clay-shirky-at-the-state-department).
  39. CASEL, “What Is Social-Emotional Learning?,” http://www.casel.org/social-and-emotional-learning.
  40. Internet Safety Technical Task Force, Enhancing Child Safety & Online Technologies: Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, January 2009, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/isttf.
  41. In cases or instances in which there are abnormal or serious emotional problems or even the potential “threat of harm to self or others,” parents and teachers need to reach out to mental/behavioral health experts especially those already working in educational/school and afterschool settings; teachers and parents need to be able to access assistance from professional who likewise are trained in these issues. Coaching4Teens offers personal coaching for high school students in the Nashville area. It started as a way to help business executives successfully manager their personal lives while balancing the demands involved in leading large organizations. Now coaching is available for teenagers who want to achieve success and balance, gain confidence, prioritize goals, sharpen decision-making skills and improve relationships. Available atwww.centerstone.org/services/coaching4teens-life-coaching-for-teens.
  42. Online Safety and Technology Working Group, Youth Safety on a Living Internet: Report of the Online Safety & Technology Working Group, 2010,www.ntia.doc.gov/legacy/reports/2010/OSTWG_Final_Report_060410.pdf..� See also Patricia Agatston’s testimony at the Fall 2009 meeting of the OSTWG.
  43. Lisa Jones, Kimberly Mitchell and Wendy Walsh, Evaluation of Internet Child Safety Materials Used by ICAC Task Forces in School and Community Settings, 2012, www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/242016.pdf.
  44. “Case Study: DIG/IT and the NYC Department of Education—Badge-empowered Digital Literacy Game Prepares NYC Students for the Real World,” Learning Times, n.d., www.learningtimes.com/what-we-do/badges/digit-badges-nycdoe.
  45. Jennifer Justus, “Pearl-Cohn Is Nashville's School of Rock,” Nashville Lifestyles, n.d., http://www.nashvillelifestyles.com/entertainment/pearl-cohn-is-nashvilles-school-of-rock#sthash.ffGjQPO7.dpuf.
  46. The Google Safety Center features safety tools, resources from Google and our expert partners to help families—and all users—safely navigate the web. Google also offers a free, interactive Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum for teachers and the Online Safety Roadshow, a digital citizenship assembly for middle school students that shares tips and tricks for being safe and smart online. Available at Google Safety Center,google.com/safetycenter.
  47. Mozilla offers a Web Literacies White Paper and website where they discuss the skills, competencies and literacies needed to not only consume but also help make the web. Available at Mozilla Web Literacy,https://wiki.mozilla.org/Learning/WebLiteracyStandard/Legacy.
  48. Microsoft offers an online library of digital literacy resources that includes a basic curriculum that provides an introduction to computers; a standard curriculum (available in 30 languages) that adds modules on the Internet, digital lifestyles and security. It also offers an advanced curriculum that focuses on the use of digital information along with support materials for instructors. Available at Microsoft Digital Literacy,www.microsoft.com/About/CorporateCitizenship/Citizenship/giving/programs/UP/digitalliteracy/eng/default.mspx
  49. Michael Robb Grieco and Renee Hobbs, A Field Guide to Media Literacy Education in the United States, Working Paper, Media Education Lab, University of Rhode Island, July 2013,http://mediaeducationlab.com/sites/mediaeducationlab.com/files/Field%20Guide%20to%20Media%20Literacy%20.pdf
  50. Common Core State Standards Initiative, “English Language Arts Standards Introduction Key Design Consideration,” n.d., www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/introduction/key-design-consideration.
  51. American Academy of Pediatrics, “Managing Media: We Need a Plan,” October 18, 2013, http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/managing-media-we-need-a-plan.aspx.
  52. Anne Collier, “Challenging ‘Internet Safety’ as a Subject to Be Taught,” September 4, 2013, http://www.connectsafely.org/challenging-internet-safety-as-a-subject-to-be-taught/.
  53. National Council is a group that works on behavioral health and believes in “healthy minds, strong communities”—their statement of purpose. “Coaching for Teens” at www.coaching4teens.org, as well as www.centerstone.org, provide counselors with skills necessary for digital age.
  54. For a summary of state laws related to online privacy, seewww.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/state-laws-related-to-internet-privacy.aspx. One example is California’s new legislation, the Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World Act, which permits minors to request removal of information of content they placed online.
  55. See, for example, Andrea M. Matwyshyn, “Of Teenagers and ‘Tweenagers’: Professor Allen's Critique of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act in Historical Perspective,” APA Newsletters, 13 no. 1 (2013) 7.
  56. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/big_data_privacy_report_may_1_2014.pdfat p. 64.
  57. http://idhypercubed.org/wiki/ProjectMustardSeed.
  58. http://www.netfamilynews.org/timely-for-safer-internet-day-game-changing-insight-into-internet-risk
  59. http:www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=2964
  60. www.stopthinkconnect.org/
  61. www.itu.int/cop

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APPENDIX - Glossary and Engagement Process

GLOSSARY

This glossary is intended to provide readers with an understanding of the way the Task Force defines specific terminology used in the report. The terms are used among the numerous professions in this effort, and the glossary is an attempt to demonstrate exactly how the Task Force uses each term. It is by no means an exhaustive list or the only way to define the below terms.

Access: the basic requirement for participation in digital learning, consisting of having access to a broadband network, a capable hardware device and the appropriate software along with the ability to use them properly. In addition to having access in school, students need access at home and in public places to support anytime, anyplace learning.

Agency: the ability to learn through a process of exploration and discovery, and the capacity to express oneself effectively.

Competency based education: this education approach allows students to move at their own pace upon mastering concepts. Learning is fixed and time is variable. Models often include five principles: Students advance upon mastery; competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students; assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students; students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs; learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

Connected learning: an approach to learning that strives to connect and leverage all the various experiences, interests, communities and contexts in which learners participate in and out of school as potential learning opportunities.

Digital badges: an online representation of a skill that has been mastered or knowledge acquired. Badges can be created, defined by, and issued by a broad range of sources.

Digital disruption: the change that occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services.

Digital age literacies: the combination of media literacy, digital literacy and social-emotional literacies; the ability to effectively use a range of digital technologies.

Interoperability: the ability of systems and organizations to work together; in education, the ability for students to move freely across networks to pursue their learning objectives or for educational data to move across different networks.

Learning network: the combination of online and off-line infrastructure that can be mobilized by students to pursue their learning or organized by educators to support student education.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for students, professors and teaching assistants.

Open Educational Resource (OER): ateaching, learning and research resource that resides in the public domain or has been released under an intellectual property license that permits free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software and any other tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

Seat time: the practice of promoting a student to the next grade only at the end of the current school year, regardless of when or whether they learned the necessary material.

Trusted environment: a technical and social framework that protects young people from harm while empowering them to explore, express themselves, pursue their interests and succeed in their education.

Whitewater learning: ability to acquire useful knowledge and skills while at the same time practicing them in an environment that is constantly evolving and presenting new challenges.


ENGAGEMENT PROCESS

One of the core charges of the Aspen Task Force was to engage the broader public in the issues of the Internet and Learning. The Task Force wanted to hear not just from experts and practitioners, but also parents, students and teachers. To that end, the Task Force engaged in public conversations through social media by conducting several rounds of digital public outreach and asking targeted questions around the issues. It also hosted a focus group with youths, aged 11-15, from Cleveland public and private schools to hear their perspectives on safety, privacy and the uses of the Internet for learning.

As the Aspen Task Force developed its findings and recommendations, it gathered perspective and insight from education, educational technology, policy, industry and related communities. As part of its larger outreach process, the Task Force members heard from 60 leaders across education and youth groups, civil rights groups, businesses, think tanks, foundations, technology-related groups, digital media & learning (DML) groups, congressional committee offices and government administration offices. Students, parents, educators and administrators contributed ideas by participating in informal discussions providing feedback on the Task Force’s developing report. The Task Force members also reached out to their own networks and used their online library of approximately 90 resources to deepen their understanding of issues.

Organizations that Contributed Ideas
The Task Force invited leading organizations to participate in interviews for the purpose of gathering a variety of perspectives on issues discussed in the Task Force. Insight from the discussions informed members of the Task Force as they developed the report. None of the participating organizations officially endorsed or helped to craft any part of the report. Individuals from the following organizations participated in the interviews:

Achieve
Afterschool Alliance
American Association of Community Colleges
American Association of School Administrators
American Federation of Teachers
American Library Association
Amplify
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Boys & Girls Club of America
Business Roundtable
Calvert County Public Schools of Maryland
Center for American Progress
Chicago Public Library
Chicago Public Schools
Common Sense Media
Consortium for School Networking
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Council of Chief State School Officers
Council of Chief State School Officers Innovation Lab Network
Creative Commons
Data Quality Campaign
Digital Public Library of America
District of Columbia Public Schools
Educational Testing Service
Family Online Safety Institute
Girl Scouts of America
House Education & the Workforce, Majority
House Education & the Workforce, Minority
House Science, Space & Technology Committee, Majority
International Association for K-12 Learning Online
Knowledge Alliance
Leading Education by Advancing Digital Commission
Metropolitan High School of New York City
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Education Association
National Parent Teacher Organization
National Summer Learning Association
National Writing Project
NewSchools
Para Los Niños of Los Angeles
Parents, District of Columbia Public Schools
Parents, Arlington Public Schools of Virginia
Partnership for Children & Youth
Pearson
Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee, Majority
Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee, Minority
Smithsonian EdLab
Software & Information Industry Association
State Education Technology Directors Association
United States Department of Education
United States Federal Communications Commission
Torrington Public Schools of Connecticut
West Virginia Department of Education
Young Adult Library Services Association

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Reason: Section 14

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

Download the Aspen Institute Task Force On Learning And The Internet Report

“Learner at the Center of a Networked World,” is a cross-sector, cross-partisan report of the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet that highlights twenty-six actions for optimizing learning and innovation within a trusted environment.

DMU Timestamp: June 24, 2014 21:59

Added June 24, 2014 at 8:09pm
Reason: Section 15

EVENT - Report Launch

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DMU Timestamp: June 24, 2014 21:59