Hon. Deborah Taylor Tate Presents ‘Learner at the Center of a Networked World’ Report at ISTE Conference

by Deborah Taylor Tate on September 22, 2014

Aspen Institute Learner at the Center of a Networked World Report CoverDuring the ISTE Conference this summer, Former FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate announced the release of the “Learner at the Center of a Networked World” Report, created by the Aspen Institute’s Task Force on Learning and the Internet.  The task force of twenty diverse leaders and respected minds in technology, public policy, education, business, privacy, and safety developed a cross-sector, cross-partisan report that highlights 26 actions for optimizing learning and innovation within a trusted environment.  Tate’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.

I am thrilled to be here because of my dear friend and colleague from Nashville, Kecia Ray, president of this esteemed organization. She has made such a difference in Nashville – in thousands of children’s lives, as well as in public policy related to ensuring all children have broadband access. I have seen her in action firsthand, collaborating on projects with the public library, and working with philanthropists like John Ingram who have turned libraries from a dessert in a school to a coffee shop, and creating entrepreneur centers for the jobs of tomorrow.

And now we are seeing the results of her engagement even in improving test scores by engaging and keeping kids in school.

I am also excited to be here to unveil the most recent Aspen Institute Report from the Task Force on Learning and the Internet.

Along with a task force that included people as varied as Microsoft’s top privacy officer, the Superintendent of Detroit public schools, researchers, and industry leaders such as Comcast, we delved into everything in your tech-ed world for over a year. We met and researched and had school field trips – to schools – and I am pleased to bring you our Final Report. In it, we recommended 26 action-steps to optimize learning and innovation within a trusted environment – and we had to list them “A-to-Z,” since you all are all educators!

The Four Pillars of Learner-Focused Education

The report starts with the fact that education should be and must be learner-focused. We know all children learn in different ways, and technology today allows so much more than was ever possible before to have truly individualized, personalized learning. The 4 pillars underneath that overarching philosophy are:

  1. Equity of Access

These were not only discussions about access to the Internet, but appropriate access. This means bandwidth to support the incredible content, sharing, peer-to-peer services, video remote learning courses, and of course BYOD: Bring your own devices.

This is something that may have some controversy, but we wanted to open a national dialogue on how we are all working to reduce – not widen – the digital divide we see occurring with some of our youth.

  1. Interoperability

You all deal with interoperability every day in your very real world. While we tried to find a new vocabulary word, we just came back to the fact that if systems and devices and content and the learners are not all connected and interoperable, the benefits just can’t be realized for our connected learners. Their ability to collaborate, share, synthesize, create, and publish are all dependent on this interoperability.

  1. Digital Literacies for All

By this, we mean not only how to use technology, but also to understand, interpret, and effectively use various media. From different vocabularies to the intricacies of intellectual property rights, media today is not passive and one-way, but collaborative and multidirectional. However, this literacy is far beyond mere media literacy. There must also be good digital citizenship and socio-emotional literacies regarding the ability to understand and manage emotions, empathy, responsibility, and most importantly to know both the opportunities and risks these digital citizens will face online. Which brings me to our last pillar, and one I have actually been working on around the world:

  1. A Trusted Environment

We identified some key characteristics of a trusted environment, something you all work to make secure every single day. Some of the discussion includes the interaction of parents, students, and others with student data. Key characteristics of a trust ecosystem include:

a. Transparency and openness

b. Easy-to-read disclosures (explaining what and how data is used)

c. Participation

Opportunities for community participation in policymaking decisions rather than top-down edicts. And as a former member of the FCC, I have to say I once saw the “top-down” approach as the easy way to ensure policy was adopted. Often, the federal government links funding with required policies. However, now that we have had years of experience with overly-filtered filters and with a one-size-fits-all approach, we need to rethink some of those edicts, whether from DC or state policymakers, and make these more individualized to meet community needs.

d. Data stewardship (how we deal with student data)

I call this the 3 Ds (like the “3 Rs”) of Data Use:

  • De-limiting: using only for educational purposes
  • De-identifying: retaining very important meta data, but delinking from personalization
  • De-leting: Deleting information when no longer needed, a student is no longer in school, or after a period of time

e. Tech innovation (innovations like dashboards)

f. Accountability (adopting codes of conduct)

And yes,

g. Oversight and enforcement. Every policy has to have some enforcement mechanism.

Steps Already in Action

The 26 action steps in our report have already been part of several major large-scale announcements. From Google to Common Sense Media; from Mozilla to a $1.2 million challenge grant.

We hope you can help us push this challenge out to your ISTE community as well. This challenge is part of our entire security discussion, and we hope it will produce some incredible new innovations to help you, your schools, and your students in this brave new world. In fact, an ISTE member would be a terrific recipient, knowing firsthand what students and families need for this trusted environment to reach its full potential.

Creating the World’s Future Innovators

Just think how our world has changed in 20 years! Laws and regulations will never keep up with high tech innovation and entrepreneurs. That is why overarching principles are important in this digital ecosystem. Most of all, it is the filters and the software we place in our children’s minds, not on their devices, and software that will guide them on this remarkable and incredible journey in the digital world.

Thank you and ISTE for this opportunity to share our vision and Report with you. Thank you for what you do every day and we have links and will make any of our work available to you to take back to your schools, families and communities.

YOU are helping to produce the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs for our planet.

  • Deborah TateHon. Deborah Taylor Tate is a member of the MMTC Board of Directors, special envoy to the ITU for Child Online Protection, member of the Aspen Institute’s Task Force on Learning and the Internet, co-chair of Healthy MEdia: Commission for Positives Images of Women and Girls, and a former FCC commissioner.
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