A Golden Key

In Washington D.C. today, there were eight Indiana school superintendents taking part in the ConnectED to the Future meeting with President Obama. I watched the LiveStream as they used their fingers to sign the Future Ready Pledge on tablet screens. And I imagined not a single one of the over 100 educational leaders in that room ever thought when they went into education that they would seriously be sitting in the East Room doing something like that. I mean, signing a document with your finger? Forget the President and the White House for a minute.  It is pretty incredible what is possible given technology in 2014. Okay, in all reality, signing a digital copy of a document with your finger is just a matter of substitution if we were going to evaluate the use of technology using SAMR. And it’s pretty commonplace. I sign receipts with my finger when I get my hair done. The Old Time Ladies and Gents Salon has an antique cash register but it serves as the base to a tablet with a fairly useless stylus. But, I digress. Have you seen what the Google Science Fair finalists have been doing the last few years? Our students are capable of doing things with technology that we only dreamed about…and that’s a long shot. Some of their accomplishments are so visionary that we couldn’t even imagine it as our future when we were their age.

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Every blue dot on this map represents an educational leader who gets that today’s students are at a disadvantage if they are not being provided the opportunity to engage in digital learning.  And those places without a bright light represents millions more students who need someone to advocate for them; someone to recognize the importance of leveraging technology for the sake of equity. To the educational leaders in those districts, I would like to hand a golden key. We all know there’s not a magic wand when it comes to educational technology and integration. But a key is different. And this one does more than open a door. It unlocks the reality of what learning can and should look like today…much less tomorrow. The golden key is no other than Future Ready Schools. It’s reaching out to those who have made the shift, who continue to work at improving their implementations of BYOD or 1:1. It’s learning about what’s possible with collaborative tools like Google Apps for Education. It’s recognizing that the educational system that we grew up in does not do our students justice today.

If you were handed a golden key what would you do with it?