NewSchools Community of Practice 2010 Session Overview and Video: Introduction: Using Technology to Achieve Ambitious Goals

August 26, 2010

Session Description:

Although technology has been touted as a tool for improving efficiency and effectiveness in education, it has rarely had the impact it promises on schools and classrooms. For students, technology is the way that they interact with, learn about, and communicate with the world. Educational technology expert Marc Prensky says, “our students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.” Today, education entrepreneurs and other practitioners are taking advantage of technological progress in new ways. At the Community of Practice event, this session set the stage for the day by previewing for participants what is possible for learning in the 21st century and closing what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls the “opportunity gap,” in which students in traditionally underserved communities lack access to technology. Speakers dispelled myths about the use of technology at all stages of student development, from early childhood through college and career.


  • Milton Chen, Senior Fellow, The George Lucas Educational Foundation
  • Gary Knell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sesame Workshop
  • Joel Rose, Chief Executive Officer, School of One
  • Katie Salen, Executive Director, Institute of Play

Part 1: In this video, Gary Knell discusses Seseame Street’s efforts over the last forty years to bring high-quality education programming to chidren around the world.

Part 2: In this video, Knell discusses why he believes Sesame Street can be a game-changer in early chilhood education and talks about Sesame Workshop’s use of mobile phones and other technology to reach parents with young children. Then, Knell plays a clip of Sesame Street characters Elmo and Abby Cadabby discussing their similarities and their differences, designed to teach children a range of skills.

Part 3: In this video, Katie Salen discusses her nonprofit’s new public charter school, Quest to Learn, which opened last fall in New York. Salen discusses Quest to Learn’s goal of connecting the spheres of home and school in order to maximize learning opportunities.

Part 4: In this video, Katie Salen continues her discussion of what an average school day at Quest to Learn looks like.

Part 5: In this video, Joel Rose, founder of School of One tells the audience that despite dramatic societal changes in the last 150 years, our classrooms look much the same. Rose describes the many ways School of One is trying to use technology to connect students with the type of learning that will be useful for them in the 21st century.

Part 6: In this video, Rose continues his discussion of how School of One is individualizing education to improve student achievement according to their own learning modalities. Then, Rose plays a video on School of One.

Part 7: In this video, Milton Chen discusses innovations in high school and college education and tells the audience that “kids are wired for learning.” Then, Chen talks about the many resources available on the George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia Web site.

Part 8: In this video, Chen talks about his “favorite governmental report,” the U.S. Department of Education’s “Prisoners of Time” report. Then, the audience votes to watch a video about Chicago’s Walter Payton College Prep, where students learn an international perspective reinforced by four years of language study, global videoconferences, and travel abroad.

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