Learning and the Internet in the 21st Century

June 28, 2013  • Charles M. Firestone

The online world is rapidly becoming a hub for civic engagement and life-long learning. Youth and adults create, remix and collaborate in a free-flow give and take of ideas and information wherever they learn. These exchanges help build the foundation for a life-long interest in learning and mastery of the skills necessary for success in school, the workplace and the community. This learning requires the open and safe exchange of information.  However, the free exchange of information online that is so crucial to the future of American educational and economic success poses multiple concerns that challenge children, parents, businesses and policy makers alike.

Jeb Bush and Rosario Dawson write about this in their jointly-authored op-ed which appeared this week in the Miami Herald, Internet brings historic shift in learningAn unlikely pair, you ask?  Former Governor Jeb Bush, co-chair of the Digital Learning Council, and Rosario Dawson, actress and co-founder of Voto Latino, are honorary co-chairs of the newly formed Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet.  The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, created the Task Force as a forum to understand better what is working, what needs improvement and how to ensure that online learning experiences are optimized for safety and innovation.

Task Force members will meet over the course of the year to discuss issues surrounding safety, learning, innovation and the Internet. They will also participate in online public conversations to ensure diverse ideas and comments are included as part of their discussions. The Task Force will also launch an online resource library that will highlight important research and other resources. Members will discuss experiences and viewpoints, analyze extensive research, review public input and develop recommendations that will advance healthy online experiences so young people can easily make smart and responsible choices on the Internet. The Task Force will release a report with their findings in 2014. See and become involved!