America’s Digital Schools 2006 is a survey for US school districts focused on digital literacy, with explicit goals to:

  • Inform Legislators and Policymakers
  • Provide Input to Vendor Community for Product Development
  • Share Information Among Districts across States

Participating districts are promised a free copy of the final study report, interestingly extolled as “an $800 value.” (When something is converted to bits, I thought it was free.) It is good the survey sponsors are going to release some survey results immediately on the website “when a statistically significant number of respondent results” are received,” but I think the entire report should be given away to everyone.

As I have argued previously in the post “Following the Free” on $3 downloadable articles from Educational Leadership magazine, educational research results should be available to everyone via the web without cost. Research which is not made available for free is more likely to be ignored in our digital informational environment. If researchers are publishing their work in the hope it will change perceptions, behaviors and/or policies, they need to pay attention to this idea. (If they are not publishing with these goals in mind, my question would be, “Why are you publishing at all?!)

The Science Commons was created on the following premise:

The sciences depend on access to and use of factual data. Powered by developments in electronic storage and computational capability, scientific inquiry is becoming more data-intensive in almost every discipline. Whether the field is meteorology, genomics, medicine, or high-energy physics, research depends on the availability of multiple databases, from multiple public and private sources, and their openness to easy recombination, search and processing.

Research about educational technology impacts should similarly be shared freely in the spirit of providing the broadest global access possible to the results, findings, and conclusions of researchers. This Digital Schools survey is REALLY long, in my opinion, but that is typical of many academic research surveys I have seen. It focuses on many questions, but important among them are issues concerning:

  • district leaders’ perceptions about the importance of 1:1 and “ubiquitous technology”
  • support for 1:1 initiatives specifically and educational technology innovations more generally
  • availability and use of digital curriculum
  • professional development
  • eLearning
  • student academic achievement performance indicators

This survey can serve as a great curriculum and topic starter for anyone interested in issues of technology leadership and 21st century digital curriculum, especially as they apply to a possible future school environment of 1:1 computing. Clearly the authors of the survey feel the questions they ask should be answered affirmatively and supportively (in most cases) by visionary educational leaders who understand the power and potentials for technology to serve as a lever to boost student academic performance and literacy development.

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2 Responses to Digital Schools, Science Commons & Technology Leadership

  1. Jim McNelis says:

    Thanks Wes, that’s good stuff. I’m passing it along to my district. But I wonder: which software vendors will be given access to see the results?

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