Around the Institute

How Do We Best Use Technology to Teach Children?

June 9, 2014  • Patricia Kirsch Kelly

On June 17, the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet will release its findings and recommendations in a report entitled Learner at the Center of a Networked World. The public is invited to hear the five essential principles and action steps from A to Z at the Aspen Institute headquarters in Washington, DC.

The Task Force — comprised of 20 thought leaders with diverse perspectives on learning, innovation, and safety, and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — crafted the report after a year of deliberations and public engagement. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Voto Latino Co-Founder Rosario Dawson served as Honorary Co-Chairs. Since last June, Task Force members worked together to determine the best way to increase digital learning and innovation without compromising safety. The Task Force members answered some very difficult questions, including: What is the new vision for learning? How do technology and the Internet play a role? How do we foster learning while maintaining security and privacy? 

Our modern world is constantly becoming more networked, and learning should as well. That is why our first set of recommendations and action steps focus on the need for learners to be at the center of new learning networks. The report makes the bold recommendation of shifting from a focus on one institution, the school, to a focus on the learner and all the places where the learner can advance academically and pursue his or her interests. Schools are one important node in a network that also includes libraries, museums, after-school institutions, and the home. 

As the Task Force worked to break through complacency and outline a new vision for learning that utilizes technology and the Internet, the group realized that there were barriers to this vision: access, interoperability, digital age literacy skills, and a safe and trusted environment for learning. The Task Force’s recommendations and proposed Action Steps address these barriers. 

Already, Task Force members have turned to their communities to brainstorm creative ways to implement these action steps and keep the momentum of their vision growing. Join us as we announce the best practices found as a result of this work. To RSVP, click here. 

Patricia Kelly is assistant director for the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program.