Joining Forces to Make it Happen: Announcing the MacArthur Connected Learning Alliance

CoSN is a member of the new Connected Learning Alliance. James Bosco, one of the Alliance's members and Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University, discusses his hopes for the initiative below. Stay tuned for more information!

A few years ago, I had a number of conversations with Seymour Papert about the status of computers in our schools. No one played a more important role than Seymour in bringing computers into the classroom (in fact, CoSN honored him with its first lifetime achievement award in 2006). My conversations with him were focused on his dismay with the slow movement of ed tech.

It would be incorrect to say that no progress has been made in the intervening years. Digital media learning resources have expanded, and there are whole school districts that “get” transformative learning. But a student’s access to teachers who can create effective learning environments with technology is still largely a matter of luck, not standards.

The time has come to make a creative leap forward. It is for this reason that I was delighted to see the formation of the Connected Learning Alliance (sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation), a working group dedicated to advancing connected learning.

The Alliance is poised for success, but there are two critical considerations. The first is a recognition that the task before us is not simply to get devices into our schools, but to change how we construct the roles of student and teacher, the design of the classroom environment, and the policies that affect schooling. The MacArthur Connected Learning initiative embodies such a conception. Our foundational framework for Connected Learning can be found here.

The second consideration is that no individual entity, whether public or private, can do what is needed to cause major transformative impact in our schools. The Connected Learning Alliance has brought together a number of organizations (including CoSN), each of which has a crucial constituency; the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. CoSN has an important role to play since it is focused on district leadership. In many cases, teachers are constrained by district policies; as CoSN members know well, if we want to help our teachers succeed, transformative educational change has to occur on the district leadership level. Over the next weeks and months, the Connected Learning Alliance will provide a lot of practical, relevant, and stimulating information. I encourage you to work with CoSN and get involved with the work of the Alliance!

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