Making a digital promise

Rui Shi

In August 2008, Congress created “a new national center founded to spur breakthrough technologies that can help transform the way teachers teach and students learn.” Digital Promise, also known as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies, brings leaders and innovators from tech giants, such as Qualcomm, to educational institutions, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in order to bring technology and education closer together and encourage students to pursue careers in the technology sector. With several ground-breaking initiatives, Digital Promise could be the spark that jump-starts an education system that is still floundering as it tries to train students for employment in the fast-paced world of technology. Digital Promise will help students realize their potential through the implementation of its many programs.

One such initiative is a partnership with the League of Innovative Schools in which various school districts around the country are banding together to create the next generation of learning technologies. These school districts will test new innovations in teaching and learning. This league could cause a ripple effect through the educational world.

The league encourages flexibility, which will allow its members to try out new methods of teaching and incorporate cutting edge technologies. As membership in the league increases, more and more schools will be able to break out of the system of standardized testing that is doing little to prepare students for their future careers. Were the league to grow, it would send a message to entrepreneurs that there is great potential in the education system, and that it is time to develop game-changing innovations for use in the classroom.

Digital Promise also hopes to launch a national “STEM Video Game Challenge.” The STEM fields ­— science, technology, engineering and mathematics — have traditionally been shunned by a large number of college students in favor of coursework in other disciplines. These fields, however, are integral to the growth of the economy. The perpetual shortage of doctors and engineers is a problem that must be solved. Indeed, in his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama noted yet again that encouraging more students to study STEM fields remains a priority for his administration.

Together with Digital Promise, a coalition of technology companies, community organizations and education non-profits are banding together to add some excitement to the STEM debate. By creating a national competition, they hope to spark creativity within students. This competition will provide students with more insight into the world of technology and inspire the next generation of innovators in the process.

Digital Promise is not just about doing things online or bringing iPads to the classroom. It’s about empowering both teachers and students so that an instructor can identify the reasons behind a student’s struggles. It’s about offering students a personalized education so that they can learn at their own pace.

Shi is an electrical and computer engineering junior.