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Aspen Institute to Look at Online Learning

The Aspen Institute has convened a task force to study how children learn online and how to improve online education while safeguarding student privacy.

As part of the initiative, the institute will launch a digital library of research related to online learning, and the 20-member task force is expected to review research to date and release a report on best practices next year. The task force includes some high-profile names from the education business and policy worlds, while academic education researchers have a more limited presence

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Rosario Dawson, a co-founder of the voting advocacy group Voto Latino, are honorary co-chairmen of the task force, with co-chairmen John Bailey, the executive director of Digital Learning Now!, and Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino's president and CEO.

Other task members are:
• Meredith Baker, senior vice president of governmental affairs for Comcast-NBC Universal;
• John Seely Brown, the independent co-chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge;
• Cathy Casserly, the chief executive officer of Creative Commons;
• Anne Collier, co-director of ConnectSafely.org
Wanda Cook-Robinson, the superintendent of the Southfield, Mich., school district and the 2013 superintendent of the year in Michigan.
• Anil Dash, co-founder of the technology consulting group Activate;
• Julius Genachowski, an Aspen Institute senior fellow and former Federal Communications Commission chairman;
• Marne Levine, vice president for global public policy at Facebook;
• Brendon Lynch, Microsoft's chief privacy officer;
• Alice Marwick, an assistant communications and media professor at Fordham University;
• Bruce Mehlman, a partner at the Washington government affairs firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, Inc.;
• Susan Molinari, Google's vice president for public policy Americas;
• Delia Pompa, the senior vice president of programs at the National Council of LaRaza, a Latino advocacy group;
• Mark Surman, the executive director of Mozilla;
• Deborah Taylor Tate, the United Nations special envoy and laureate for child online protection; and
• Felton Thomas, the executive director and chief executive officer of the Cleveland Public Library.

Those are some heavy hitters in online policy and privacy issues, but it seems odd to me that a task force that Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson said is intended to
"help jump-start a national conversation about the relationship between learning and the web" includes so few of the researchers in the field, like SRI's Barbara Means, Chris Dede of Harvard University, and so on. It will be interesting to follow the task force's public discussions in the coming months.

"The Internet has the potential to optimize learning for all ages and all walks of life. No matter where you are or where you come from, the Internet offers a window on the world. This task force is designed to make sure we unleash the potential of the Internet safely and examine the critical issues as we move the conversation forward," said Rosario Dawson, honorary co-chairman, in a statement.

The task force is kicking off this week with an event in Washington.

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