ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA — May 13, 2011 — The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is offering teachers, parents, students and other community members a chance to collaborate on how future learning environments are designed, constructed and furnished.
"We are seeing dramatic changes in how students communicate, interact, and learn," said DoDEA Acting Director Marilee Fitzgerald."School facilities of the future must be flexible and adaptable, allowing us to adjust to deliver student-centric education for a 21st century, knowledge-based economy."
In January of 2011, President Barack Obama released a report (Strengthening our Military Families) that identified education as one of his key areas. Complementing this initiative, the Department of Defense has committed to an ambitious military construction program that will build or significantly renovate over 100 DoDEA schools. From now until 2016, this modernization initiative will replace an aging inventory of facilities with state-of-the-art schools to support dependent education for the next 45 years.
School districts across the nation, including DoDEA, are facing major facility challenges due largely to the aging infrastructure and the related costs. Providing a safe, secure and educationally appropriate facility for all military children is a critical responsibility for DoDEA.
"Good teachers can teach anywhere, but if the space they teach in is purposed for education, we can enhance the learning experience," said Fitzgerald."The facility shouldn't be a barrier, or a workaround; it's an intentioned space that is constructed for the benefit of learning. We will eliminate our portables, we will eliminate multiple buildings. We won't have to take a journey around a base to get to the music room or to the art room."
DoDEA has established a three phase plan entitled, Facilities for 21st Century Learning. Phase 1, which has already occurred, brought together experts from industry, educational leaders, and futurists. Phase 2 focuses on receiving ideas and input from customers -- students, teachers, parents, and communities. Phase 3 will involve a thorough analysis and synthesis of all submitted ideas and input.
Parents and community members are invited to share ideas at: http://21stcentury.dodea.edu/. DoDEA also established a space an internal site for employees to submit ideas at: http://intersect.hq.ds.dodea.edu/community/21stcenturyschools.
Submissions can be in the form of videos, images, written narratives or audio files. All student work must be submitted by a teacher using the established Intranet site to ensure adult moderation.
Each site provides registration information, guiding questions, and the process for submitting ideas electronically. Parents and community members are invited to share ideas for 21st Century learning using one of the five input opportunities outlined on our external Web site.
DoDEA will take innovations in education, curriculum delivery, use of technology, and the growing expectations for sustainability and energy conservation into consideration as the process moves forward.
"We really need input from our students, parents and the community to help design educational facilities that optimize success for students in the 21st Century," said Fitzgerald."Our schools need to support the teaching and learning process in a way that helps our children grow and learn in the 21st Century."
DoDEA consists of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools located overseas, and the Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools located in the U.S. and its territories and possessions. DoDEA provides education to eligible DoD military and civilian dependents from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. DoDEA also provides support and resources to Local Education Activities throughout the U.S. that serve children of military families.