Last updated on: 5/16/2013 | Author:

Karen Cator, MA Biography

CEO of Digital Promise and former Director of the Office of Education Technology at the US Department of Education
Pro to the question "Should Tablets Replace Textbooks in K-12 Schools?"

“The term ‘digital textbook’ does signal an important entrance into mainstream education of the vast array of rapidly improving high-tech content, tools, and resources… When people ask me what a digital textbook is, I say that it is a bridge to a powerful new way to learn, a phenomenon that may be as significant as the invention of the printing press that opened the door to universal learning from books. How will digital learning expand learning opportunities? First, students and teachers can use some of the same powerful tools professionals use for research, writing, music composition, photography, and documentary filmmaking — tools for creating and analyzing visualizations of mass quantities of data and for communication and collaboration.

Second, the content within this new generation of textbooks can be expanded, enhanced, and personalized in a digital environment. Imagine the textbook that can read aloud, define its words, provide explanations of how to solve problems, and take the student on a virtual tour of the setting of a novel. Imagine it includes maps with perpetually updated videos, stories, data, and information—well organized and accessible for the teacher and the learner. Imagine it contains simulations and models, animations of the stock market, or the earth’s tides, a molecule that students can interact with—turning it around, adding or removing parts to promote deeper conceptual understanding. And this textbook includes links to relevant websites, resources, videos, and personal interests both professionally vetted and personally curated.

These digital learning tools will provide guided feedback that is personalized for the learner, readily adapting to the abilities and needs of each student. They will include cognitive tutors adapting to the progression of the student and complex and engaging games that support problem solving and collaboration, encourage persistence, and maintain motivation.”

“The Transition to Digital Content and Textbooks,”, Mar. 16, 2012

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
Individuals with PhDs or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to the study of education or education technology. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to the study of education or education technology.
Involvement and Affiliations:
  • CEO, Digital Promise, Apr. 2013-present
  • Director, Office of Education Technology, US Department of Education, Nov. 2009-Feb. 2013
  • Director, Education Leadership and Advocacy, Apple Inc., 2001-Dec. 2009
  • Chair, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Sep. 2006-Sep. 2007
  • Former Special Assistant for Telecommunications, Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
  • Former Teacher and Technology Planner, Juneau Public Schools
  • Former Board Member, Software and Information Industry Association-Education
  • MA, School Administration, University of Oregon
  • BS, Early Childhood Education, Springfield College, 1980
  • Helped issue the third National Educational Technology Plan in Mar. 2010