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Lessons from the DOD: Energizing and Engaging Students through Technology

November 10, 2011
at 5:31 am PST

A recent American Forces Press Service article reported that the Department of Defense (DOD) launched a visionary program to renovate or replace 134 of its 194 schools worldwide. The DOD allotted  $3.7 billion to bring all of its schools up to the highest technology levels by 2016 and Congress appropriated nearly $400 million in fiscal 2011 to aid the effort. This is a fantastic program that builds on the Department of Education’s current initiative to prioritize technologies such as telepresence for K-12 schools.

As technology becomes more prevalent in the classroom, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) has embraced multiple initiatives, from building robots to teaching Japanese in a virtual learning program. According to the story, military children move an average of six to eight times over the course of their school careers, making these programs particularly important.

Students working on projects through telepresence will be able to gain face-to-face access to experts in their topic of study, motivating them to inquire more deeply into the subject. In the case of the DoDEA virtual classes, students are able to continue coursework they had been taking in a previous school with one-on-one attention from a teacher who can really engage the learner and keep the experienced “humanized.”

As I’ve written recently, another huge benefit of incorporating telepresence into the K-12 classroom is encouraging project-based learning that connects students to other students and experts for real-time interaction and collaboration.

Telepresence and virtual classroom programs are becoming the norm. Now, I believe it’s important to focus on making sure educators (teachers and administrators) are fully prepared. Do you think they are?

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