Posted by: Dave Moursund
Tagged in: Intelligent Computer-assisted Learning
Each discipline has its own challenging problems and tasks. It has become common for a discipline to pose these as “Grand Challenges.” Recently I encountered information about Grand Challenges in education.
This IAE Blog entry is based on the U.S. Department of Education report, R&D: Solving Grand Challenge Problems (2008). Quoting from this 2008 document:
If we are to achieve our goal of leading the world in education, we must be leaders in the design and implementation of a more effective education system. To accomplish this, we require an organization with the mission of serving the public good through research and development at the intersection of learning sciences, technology, and education (Pea & Lazowska, 2003). The Higher Education Act (P.L. 110-315) [http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-110publ315/pdf/PLAW-110publ315.pdf] passed in August 2008 authorizes establishment of the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies (also called the Digital Promise). Housed in the Department of Education, the center is authorized as a 501(c)3 that would bring together contributions from the public and private sectors to support the R&D needed to transform learning in America. [Bold added for emphasis.]
Another part of the document lists four Grand Challenges:
- Design and validate an integrated system that provides real-time access to learning experiences tuned to the levels of difficulty and assistance that optimizes learning for all learners, and that incorporates self-improving features that enable it to become increasingly effective through interaction with learners.
- Design and validate an integrated system for designing and implementing valid, reliable, and cost-effective assessments of complex aspects of 21st century expertise and competencies across academic disciplines.
- Design and validate an integrated approach for capturing, aggregating, mining, and sharing content, student learning, and financial data cost-effectively for multiple purposes across many learning platforms and data systems in near real time.
- Identify and validate design principles for efficient and effective online learning systems and combined online and offline learning systems that produce content expertise and competencies equal to or better than those produced by the best conventional instruction in half the time at half the cost. [Bold added for emphasis.]
Notice that the Congressional authorization was in August of 2008. Here is the situation three years later. Quoting from White House Press Release 9/15/2011 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/15/fact-sheet-digital-promise-initiative):
Digital Promise is a new national center created by Congress with bipartisan support to advance technologies that can transform teaching and learning. It is being launched today with startup funds and support from the Department of Education as well as the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
In support of the Administration’s initiative, the National Science Foundation will announce $15 million in new awards to support research that is developing next-generation learning environments.
The press release says little about any additional federal funds to be invested in the project. The plan is for most of the money to come from private sources. A recent article by Duncan and Hastings (9/19/2011) provides more information on Digital Promise. Quoting from the article.
To help remedy those gaps, the Department of Education is launching a unique public-private partnership called Digital Promise. (See http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/15/fact-sheet-digital-promise-initiative.)
Digital Promise is a bipartisan initiative that will be sustained primarily by the private sector. It was created by a law signed by President George W. Bush. Federal seed money will fund the program's start-up, but it will be overseen by a board that includes business executives—such as John Morgridge, the chairman emeritus of Cisco, and Irwin Jacobs, co-founder of Qualcomm—who will work with researchers, educators and other private-sector leaders.
What You Can Do
Here is a repeat of the Grand Challenge #4:
Identify and validate design principles for efficient and effective online learning systems and combined online and offline learning systems that produce content expertise and competencies equal to or better than those produced by the best conventional instruction in half the time at half the cost.
Think about (and/or learn about) use of online education in your school district or a school district that interests you. How is online education being used in an attempt to help improve education and decrease costs? How is this affecting teachers and students? Think about how progress in meeting this challenge will affect teachers, school budgets, and our overall educational system. Get involved!
Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications
You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.
Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.
Here are some examples of publications that might interest you.
Intelligent computer tutor systems. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/intelligent-computer-tutor-systems.html.
A major turning point in education. See http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/a-major-turning-point-in-education.html.
Duncan, A., & Hastings, R. (9/19/2011). A Digital Promise to Our Nation's Children. The Wall Street Journal (Opinion). Retrieved 11/1/2011 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903927204576575101438816300.html.
U.S. Department of Education (2008). R&D: Solving grand challenge problems. Retrieved 11/1/2011 from http://www.ed.gov/technology/draft-netp-2010/r-d.