Education in the Year of the Dragon

It’s fitting as we celebrate the Chinese New Year and kick off the Year of the Dragon that the education industry would burst into 2012 with what some would call a fiery breath. We first saw education initiatives take center stage at the record-setting Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas; and last week, Apple devotees flocked to the Guggenheim in New York for the highly anticipated iBooks and iBooks Author event.

During a CES Innovation Power panel session, Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox, aptly commented, “We must fundamentally improve our educational system. We need to make science and math a desirable place to be. We need great teachers. We need excited learners. We can’t complain if we don’t have them, if we don’t invest in them.” (Full story on Web Pro News)

In related CES news, One Laptop per Child (OLPC) joined forces with silicon provider Marvell to showcase a new XO 3.0 tablet. The companies are investing in education for children living in poverty across the world with their low-cost, low-power tablet, which is expected to cost around $100 per device to contracted governments. Making high-quality and interactive educational tools will be increasingly important in 2012; and in today’s economy, ensuring innovative technology becomes more affordable will take on an equal or greater weight.

We’ve talked before about the impact of tablets on education, and specifically how Livescribe is a complement to the iPad. We continue to believe that learning should be an engaging process – one where you can create your own digital, searchable notes, and interact with your teachers in a way that makes the textbook jump off the page. That’s why we’re also excited about the recent news from Apple around their iTunes U, iBooks and iBooks Author products.

For its part, Livescribe has also made significant strides in the education market over the past year. At the K-12 level, Livescribe is involved in education reform through the Common Core Challenge, a program led by Council of Teachers and Mathematics members Jon Wray and Bill Barnes.  By using low-cost, smartpen technology, Wray and Barnes aim to create an online resource with interactive instructional guides for each math concept outlined in the Common Core Standards.

Livescribe smartpens are also well-suited to the field of learning disability education. In the fall of 2010, UC Berkeley’s Disabled Students’ Program (DSP) began a pilot program in which they provided a subset of students with a Livescribe smartpen for use in taking class notes. At a time when education budgets continue to face intense scrutiny, Berkeley not only identified cost saving opportunities from the Livescribe pilot program; they were also able to track improved performance in participating students.

If January’s news is any indication of what’s in store, the Year of the Dragon looks promising in the education technology space. What is the one innovation you’d like to see in education tech this year? Let us know in the comments.

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bwhite - who has written 28 posts on noteworthy.

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