New Report from the Aspen Institute Sees Technology as Key in Closing the Achievement Gap


The Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning & the Internet recently released the report, “Learner at the Center of a Networked World,” that presents strategies for implementing a new approach to learning which utilizes the tools of the 21st century. It argues that our current education system of fixed-duration, classroom-based learning is a relic of a 19th century industrial society, and that digital literacy is essential to prepare students for college and/or the workplace.

This network-based approach will connect all parties involved in students’ progress, including parents, teachers, out-of-school-time providers, and community organizations. Learning will be individualized so that students can master concepts at their own pace, and pursue subjects which interest them.

The report’s strategy seeks not only to radically modernize teaching methodology, but also to resolve issues of equity of access, which leave many students, often from poor communities, without adequate resources to become competitive candidates in an increasingly technology-driven job market. In the words of Honorary Task Force Co-Chair, Rosario Dawson: “This report brings to light how we can create a new era of safe, individualized, and connected learning for students of all ages, in any neighborhood, rich or poor.”

While this all may sound very ambitious, the report is careful to address challenges such as ensuring student privacy, web safety, and that educators are well-trained in new teaching technologies through professional development and continued support.

We were very excited to see the Providence After School Alliance lauded for its learner-centered programming and use of digital badges to recognize student achievements. Every Hour Counts commends the Task Force for stressing the importance of redirecting our attention and investment toward creating bright futures for all students in the digital age.