Cal TAC Releases New Report on Digitally Enhanced Education Symposium
The California Teacher Advisory Council (Cal TAC) has released the latest in a series of papers discussing the
efficacy of digitally enhanced education, exploring what works, for whom, and under what conditions in
A CalTAC convened symposium, one in a series supported by the Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation
and the Stuart Foundation, was held on September 13, 2013, at the California Department of Education
in Sacramento. This symposium brought together thought leaders and practitioners from the
education, technology, policy, research, and philanthropic communities to explore the issue of
efficacy in the field of digital teaching and learning. The meeting was designed as an ongoing
conversation among those with distinct, but complementary perspectives on the efficacy of digitally
"It's a good time for us to be thinking at the state level about setting expectations and
supporting the kinds of technology-related changes we're trying to make," said Mary Vixie Sandy,
Executive Director of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. "In both pre-service
programs and on-going professional development, we need to create learning ecosystems that are self-
perpetuating, with teachers coming to the environment prepared to act and be agents of teaching and
Discussions at the symposium revealed that research on the use of technology in education is
strongest in enumerating learning theories, curricular design frameworks, approaches to teacher
professional development, and assessment designs. However, this research falls short in terms of
identifying what works in general, or in guiding instructional decision-making by teachers in the
In particular, participants noted that while individual success stories certainly exist,
digitally enhanced education to date has not fulfilled its promise as a 'great equalizer,' and that
teachers are not always comfortable with or able to effectively leverage the opportunities that the
new technologies offer.
"We want things that are a benefit for 90% of teachers, not just the superstars," said Jeremy
Roschelle, Co-Director of the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International. "Learning
activity systems or packages that integrate curriculum, technology, and professional development
need to be offered in right-sized modules or chunks that are significant enough to deliver change,
but modest enough that teachers feel they can try them and not feel overwhelmed."
Cal TAC, an organization founded by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) in
2005, is a group of carefully selected award winning, highly accomplished K-12 teachers from
across California. Cal TAC has been working to provide greater opportunities for students to engage
in the STEM disciplines as well as to improve their academic performance.
This report offers recommendations to decision makers on developing sound, research-based
approaches to the implementation of digitally enhanced education as a means of better measuring and
understanding the impact that these technologies have on learning outcomes. Bringing together
thought partners strategically placed within California’s education and policy communities allows
these key players and implementers to pose specific actions and next steps in addressing the
challenges and opportunities to enhance learning through emergent technologies.
CalTAC members emphasized in the report that "We must shift from thinking about technology as an
add-on and move toward a more integrated understanding of what is possible."