NEPC Review: Teachers in the Age of Digital Instruction (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, November 2011)
The Fordham Institute’s Teachers in the Age of Digital Instruction is an advocacy document outlining a vision for how technology might transform the teaching profession. The report’s rationale is based on claims that the current education system lacks the capacity to support the revolutionary changes needed to unleash the technological innovations of online instruction that will yield increased effectiveness and efficiency. The report explains that effective teachers are central to the demands of online instruction and will be even more necessary in the digital age than in the current system. It asserts that the elements that constitute effective teaching can be broken down into discrete skills and then packaged and distributed to a wider group of learners via digital media. Harnessing the talents of effective teachers will be critical in both meeting the needs of students and in making teaching a “true profession” (p. 2) through increased specialization and tiered salary structures. While the report addresses an important topic, it provides little or no empirical research evidence to support the claim that digital age technologies will improve the education system. Without sufficient or adequate use of evidence to support its claims, the report amounts to only a vision of what changes might be necessary as the digital revolution comes of age in public education.