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Do U.S. schools need an infusion of digital technology to transform teaching and learning? A new nonprofit center known as “Digital Promise” thinks so, and it will help fund the development of new technology like learning software and educational games in schools across the country. The center, created by Congress and launched on Friday, hopes to make it easier for public and private companies to pilot digital-centered curricula in classrooms. It was founded, according to its website, “to spur breakthrough technologies that can help transform the way teachers teach and students learn.”

U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth (D-KY) — a major force in bringing Digital Promise to life — introduced the new center at the White House on September 15th, where U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shared details on technological advancements in other countries.

South Korea, for example, is committed to having no textbooks in classrooms by 2015. In Uruguay, there is a laptop for every student, said Duncan, who posed the question, “Will the United States lead or lag behind?”

Barack Obama and Arne Duncan

Duncan and others highlighted digital successes in North Carolina and New York City, and other speakers described a move toward a competency-based learning environment enhanced by technology rather than a time-based one, which plans lessons based on hours of instruction, not students’ level of understanding.

It’s a concept that Michael Horn — founder of Innosight Institute and a contributor to Forbes.com — agrees with.

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Nick Pandolfo writes for The Hechinger Report. A native of New York City, he majored in education at Eugene Lang College and later taught ESL for four years in New York, China and South Korea. Before entering...

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