School & District Management

U.S. Solicits Input for New Ed-Tech Plan

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — November 13, 2009 2 min read
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Federal education officials are soliciting input for a new plan for educational technology that would put student learning at the center of the nation’s strategy for transforming schooling in the digital age.

But even though today’s Web 2.0 tools can spread information broadly and quickly and foster collaboration on such projects, the effort has apparently been slow in attracting recommendations from educators and ed-tech experts that could help guide its development, some people in the field say.

“The new plan is a critical component to moving education forward in the digital age,” said Donald G. Knezek, the executive director of the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE, based in Washington. “The draft is shaping up to have all the right placeholders focused on learning and effective and competent teaching.

“But the important thing now is to put the meat on those placeholders,” he said, “so they have got to have educators and sophisticated education leadership to get their ideas in there.”

So far, those voices are scarce among the comments highlighted on the Web site set up to collect input on the plan.

The National Educational Technology Plan “will provide a set of concrete goals that can inform state and local educational technology plans as well as inspire research, development, and innvation,” according to a description of the project provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

Four Areas Highlighted

About 200 entries currently are on the site, www.edtechfuture.org. But few are recommendations for what should be included in the plan, which is supposed to include ed-tech guidance in four focus areas: learning, assessment, teaching, and productivity.

While several educators and media specialists have offered their suggestions, and several major organizations that work on issues related to educational technology have also contributed, most of the entries are from companies or organizations promoting specific products, services, or programs.

The office of educational technology at the Education Department, which is in charge of revising the existing plan, had been without leadership until earlier this month, when Karen Cator, a former executive at Apple Inc., was named its director. (“Former Apple Executive to Lead U.S. Ed-Tech Office,” Nov. 11, 2009.)

Even so, the new plan is on a fast track, with a draft expected to be completed by early 2010.

The first National Educational Technology Plan was issued in 1996 under President Bill Clinton. It emphasized the need for professional development to help teachers use technology effectively. The plan was revised in 2000 and 2005.

A version of this article appeared in the November 18, 2009 edition of Education Week as U.S. Solicits Input for New Educational Tech. Plan

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