Digital Age Teacher Council Offers National Blueprint to Transform Teaching for Today’s Tech Savvy Young Children

New Report Examines Current Efforts and Outlines Actions to Raise the Quality of Teaching in Preschool and Primary Grades Using Digital Technologies

New York, NY, November 2, 2011 – The Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council, established by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and the StanfordĀ  Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, with support from the Joyce Foundation, released today the report Take a Giant Step, detailing a multi-sector action plan to enhance teacher education and a higher quality, 21st century approach to the learning and healthy development of children in preschool and the primary grades.

Co-chaired by Professor Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University and Michael H. Levine, the Cooney Center’s Executive Director, the Council found that the integration of research-based and innovative training models are a key missing element in the design of quality early learning programs. From their review of research sponsored by foundations and government agencies, there is evidence that less than half of all early childhood programs in the U.S. are considered high quality and promote significant learning among underserved students. In addition, recent studies like Common Sense Media’s report Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America have shown that children ages 3-8 are consuming between 4-7 hours of media daily. It is due to this shift that organizations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children are updating professional practices to guide learning and development for today’s children.

In the report, the Council sets forth several goals for the nation to meet by 2020 to integrate digital media in education that can help bring the most underserved students up to speed with 21st century skills including:


Advance technology integration and infrastructure – the Council recommends that the President and Congress expand broadband policies and technology integration efforts to cover publicly supported preschool programs.

Modernize professional learning programs and models – the Council urges states, local districts, Head Start and other early learning programs to develop curricula and training resources for teachers and parents on the appropriate use of technologies with young children. The Council recommends specific reforms to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to integrate the use of technology in both preparation and ongoing training programs.

Expand public media use as a cost-effective asset for teachers – given their low cost, research-based development, but current limited use in early childhood settings, the Council recommends the creation of more public-private partnerships to create and distribute public media assets more widely.

Create a Digital Teacher Corps – the Council recommends a new public-private partnership be designed to support a corps of teachers whose goal is to integrate modern technologies and best teaching practices to address the “fourth grade reading slump” that afflicts over one million young children annually.

“Teaching young children today demands a new approach to an exciting but increasingly complex set of challenges,” said Linda Darling-Hammond. “Quality early learning programs in our digital age will be led by highly prepared, flexible teachers who can effectively integrate what they know about healthy child development with the resources of an always connected, thoroughly modern environment. Take a Giant Step demonstrates how to design a new pathway for our youngest kids – where teaching is intentional, learning is engaging, and community matters most.”

Take a Giant Step highlights current research on classroom technology integration. The Council examined various best practices including online professional development courses, statewide technology innovations such as the Maine One-to-One Laptop program and technology integration through applications such as Building Blocks software and university-based programs introduced by Tufts University.

The Digital Teacher Preparation Council consists of 18 leaders from a variety of fields including teacher education, child development, literacy, science, public service media and technology. Take a Giant Step was written by Brigid Barron, Laura Bofferding, Gabrielle Cayton-Hodges, Carol Copple, Linda Darling-Hammond and Michael H. Levine. (The full report can be found here.)

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop is an independent, non-profit research group that is fostering innovation in children’s learning through digital media. The Cooney Center conducts research, creates educational models and interactive media, and builds cross-sector partnerships. It is named for Sesame Workshop’s founder, who revolutionized television with the creation of Sesame Street. Core funding is provided by the generous support of Peter G. Peterson and Sesame Workshop.