Our modern era has inspired us to find new ways to incorporate technology and the availability of instant information into every aspect of our lives. Technology’s role in education cannot be undervalued as policymakers, educators, and researchers reevaluate the needs of students in the 21st century.
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, DC highlighted the connection between technology and education advancement during their event on October 21, The Disrupters: Katherine Bradley on Education Innovation and Designing the School of the Future. James Glassman, a visiting fellow with AEI’s Center for Internet, Communication, and Technology Policy, interviewed Katherine Bradley. Bradley is the president of CityBridge Foundation in Washington, D.C.
This interview addressed important questions about tech advancements in primary education. Three questions guided the interview: (1) what does innovation in education look like? (2) How do we design schools for students' needs - particularly those in need? (3) What is technology’s role in revolutionizing schools?
While Bradley’s answers to these questions were specific to DC public and charter schools, many of these topics are relevant to the broader scope of school systems in low- and middle-income countries.
Innovative education is increasingly interdependent on technological advancement. Innovative programs are emerging across the globe to address the needs of vulnerable students in impoverished communities. Technology is an important bridge to determining and enacting solutions to educational challenges for these students. Many program profiles in CEI’s Program Database highlight the use of these methods. For example, Mindspark enables primary school students in Delhi to learn math skills through computer-based self-adaptive-learning programs. An extensive list of programs utilizing educational technology in their models can be found in the CEI Program Database.
Educational progress, however, cannot solely rely on technology. This is never truer than in low- and middle- income countries. Communities without consistent internet access, attainable technological resources, or tech-savvy teachers cannot depend on blended learning models to improve educational outcomes. Katherine Bradley encourages the examination of school leadership to improve student performance. Bradley suggests analyzing principal leadership and teacher autonomy to find adaptive, yet innovative, classroom methodologies to improve student-centered education.
Schools in lower income communities, whether in the United States or abroad, have unique needs. Combining technological innovation with strong school system infrastructure can provide a pathway to improve learning outcomes. James Glassman and Katherine Bradley’s discussion brought up essential food for thought for both domestic and international fields of education development.
Anisa Rahaman is the Global Education Innovations Intern at Results for Development’s Center for Education Innovations, and a junior at American University’s undergraduate School of International Service.
Photo Credit: Enova, Mexico