Teachers & Technology: Unlocking Learning Potential through Powerful Partnership

Three influences on the future of education

An article in today’s New York Times highlighted the work that technology philanthropists like Marc Benioff, Mark Zuckerberg, and Reed Hastings are doing to support schools and spur innovation in education. We applaud the commitment of these CEOs to use their talents, passions, and resources to improve equity and learning outcomes for all students.

At DreamBox Learning, we are hopeful about the future of education because of three converging influences:
  1. Parents understand that their children need to be prepared for an information-driven, globalized economy that has technology at its core. Increasingly, parents are demanding that schools deliver more so that their kids just don’t survive and thrive in the next century, but indeed drive it as innovators and masters of their own destiny.
  2. New technologies are creating new possibilities for all learners (adults and children) because of their ability to personalize and differentiate learning and motivate students to persist through challenge toward academic competency. These nimble technologies, when used in partnership with the wide range of learning guardians (teachers, tutors, parents, administrators) can help customize learning for optimal impact. These responsive technologies that get to know us as we use them can literally learn the learner as the learner learns, and in doing so, give each student the challenge or support they need right when they need it.
  3. New investors in learning innovation are committed to ensuring that education is not left in the dust as innovations shape other industries and unlock human potential. It’s easy for CEOs of global technology firms to avoid getting involved in education, but when they can make education a priority and intentionally engage in it to improve, great things can happen.

That said, district administrators, teachers, and parents need—and deserve—to know that the tools and technologies they are bringing into the classroom will improve outcomes for students and support teachers as they serve their students. We agree that there needs to be more third party research in this area to identify what works, in what conditions, and what doesn’t (and why). At DreamBox, we want our school partners to have confidence when they choose DreamBox as a key technology tool for their classroom, and we seek to support them so that they feel more successful with DreamBox than without it.

Today, there are instructional technology tools used in schools that are showing extraordinary results and give us the motivation to continue research and development to understand how we can make the biggest impact for students and teachers. Far from diminishing the role of the teacher in the classroom, our mission at DreamBox is to support and empower teachers with data that can be used to meet each individual student where he or she is in the learning process. Third-party research—as well as the stories that we hear every day from the thousands of teachers and administrators that we work with across the country—like this one from Wichita—clearly show the impact that DreamBox has on math learning in young students.

Whether you are a pessimist or an optimist at heart about the potential of technology to improve education, I hope one thing that we can agree on is this: we can’t accept the status quo in education. We can’t stand still, because the world around us will not stand still. It is our duty as education professionals—and as global citizens—to do everything we can to prepare all students for the future that they will face by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to succeed.

Jessie Woolley-Wilson

Jessie Woolley-Wilson

Jessie Woolley-Wilson is President and CEO of DreamBox Learning®, Inc. Before joining DreamBox, Woolley-Wilson was President of Blackboard’s K–12 Group and President of LeapFrog SchoolHouse. She also held leadership positions at collegeboard.com, the interactive division of the College Board, and at Kaplan, the leading test preparation company in the U.S. She serves on the boards of several educational organizations including the International Association for K–12 Online Learning (iNACOL), Camelot Education, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Locally, she serves on the boards of Island Wood, an environmental learning center that connects children to the outdoors, and Seattle Venture Partners International. She has also served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Technology and Education, and has presented at TEDx Rainier, SXSWedu, and DENT. Wooley-Wilson was awarded the 2015 Executive Excellence Award in the CEO of the Year category by Seattle Business magazine; she was on the Forbes “Impact 15″ list for being a disruptor of education; and she was honored as a “Woman of Influence” by Puget Sound Business Journal.
Jessie Woolley-Wilson