Sizing Up Obama’s Ed-Tech Plans

By Katie Ash — December 23, 2008 1 min read
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I just finished up a story for Digital Directions today about what Obama plans to do for the ed-tech community and how that measures up to what prominent members of that community believe he should do once he takes office on Jan. 20.

As we mentioned before, Obama has pledged to put more computers in schools and expand broadband access to homes and schools as part of his economic-recovery plan that he hopes will create up to 3 million jobs. In addition, Obama has indicated that technology will play a much larger role in the infrastructure of government, something ed-tech advocates hope schools will take notice of and emulate.

One thing I didn’t have room to talk much about in the story was the role of technology in increasing the transparency of government, which many ed-tech experts were excited about. Tracy Gray, from the National Center for Technology Innovation told me, “What [Obama’s] trying to do, I believe, is make sure that all citizens who are interested have the option to better understand what government policies are, what the mandates are for our citizenship from a legislative perspective, despite whatever disabilities or handicaps they have, that they can get this information.”

Kimberly A. Rice, the chief information officer for the Boston public schools, hopes that the same philosophy will be applied to education. “Our parents, families, and communities should expect that we make our [student] data transparent, whether or not they choose to use those tools,” she said. “Student information, parent portals, access to student grades, ... are really important, and I’m finding it promising that [Obama is] setting that expectation for his own executive branch.”

This was a very interesting story to report, and most everyone I talked with was enthusiastic and hopeful about what might happen when the President-elect takes office. It’ll be a while until we know whether Obama will fulfill all the promises he made for ed tech on the campaign trail, and in light of the current economic, financial, and global downturn, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a whole lot of movement on this right away, but it’s definitely something that—at this point—the whole ed-tech community is watching closely.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.