Grand Challenges in the US National Educational Technology Plan

September 10, 2010 at 10:52 am 5 comments

I am on a “Cyberlearning” subcommittee of an NSF task force on “Cyberlearning and Workforce Development.”  The general question of the task force is to consider how to best enable our workers and students to take advantage of cyberlearning opportunities.  The Cyberlearning subcommittee is tasked with the student side of this, looking at technology, pipeline issues, training, and policy.  I just got my background packet for our meeting at the end of the month, and I was impressed by the people on the subcommittee.  I was contacted by Nora Sabelli (visionary program director at NSF, now semi-retired at SRI), and the discussion groups are headed by Roy Pea (of the Pea and Kurland papers on Logo, one of the founders of the Learning Sciences, now runs the Learning Sciences program at Stanford), Marcia Linn (National Academy fellow, recipient of SIGCSE’s outstanding contributions award, pioneer in educational technology for science education), and Ken Koedinger (director of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, world’s leading researcher in ITS, guy who knows CS as well as Psychology). Should be really interesting.

In the packet was a discussion of the US National Educational Technology Plan.  I admit that I didn’t know that we had such a thing!  Of particular relevance for us, computer scientists interested in (computing) education, are the “Grand Challenges” (listed below).  This reminded me of the recent work on learning management systems for computing education — they had an ITICSE working group in 2008, and I think they’re planning one for 2011, too.  These are pretty huge challenges, and interestingly, we’re a great group to be working on them.

Notably, although each of these problems is a grand challenge in its own right, they all combine to form the ultimate grand challenge problem in education: establishing an integrated, end-to-end real-time system for managing learning outcomes and costs across our entire education system at all levels.

1.0: 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.

2.0: 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.

3.0: 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.

4.0: 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.

via Focus on Grand Challenge Problems | U.S. Department of Education.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  September 10, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I see a lot of buzzwords there, but not much in the way of content. About the only thing that stands out as having meaning is “half the time at half the cost,” which seems an unlikely outcome from a government project, and not one that has any evidence of being plausible.

  • 2. Mark Guzdial  |  September 11, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Did you get a chance to visit the Dept of Ed page that’s cited? Each of the Grand Challenges is actually a hyper-link with a page of explanation. I’m intrigued with the set. I agree with the claim that the sum of them, if completed successfully, would be a dramatic opportunity for US education.

    • 3. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  September 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm

      No, when the abstract is that full of buzzwords, I don’t attempt to read the paper. My tolerance for eduspeak is rather limited.

  • 4. saád muntari  |  October 23, 2010 at 11:37 am

    the findings are educative and an eye opener to those of us that yet to arrive and meet up with the basic science and technology education especilly my country, nigeria

  • […] time ago, Mark Guzdial posted on the Grand Challenges in the US National Educational Technology Plan. If I may summarise the four, huge, challenges, they […]


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