Federal

The Education Department’s Ed-Tech White Paper

November 14, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Too bad for us, perhaps, but Margaret Spellings did not choose the Digital Education blog to release her new white paper on educational technology. The U.S. secretary of education chose instead eduwonk for her debut as a guest blogger.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just as well, because what is probably the Bush administration’s last gasp on the subject of educational technology is an anemic effort.

The 10-page document, available here, basically echoes the administration’s previous positions on ed-tech.

It states support for expansion of online and virtual schools, better data systems, individualization of education (through data and online courses), broadband telecommunications, more research on the effectiveness of classroom technology, and leadership.

There is no indication that Secretary Spellings changed any of her views on education technology from the series of four “roundtable” meetings with various ed-tech stakeholders that were the basis for the report.

My story about the first roundtable, held in New York City on March 23, 2007, is here.

It is also interesting to compare the “five key areas” identified in the white paper with the “seven action steps” in the National Education Technology Plan that the Bush administration issued in 2004.

White Paper Key Areas
1. Online Learning and Virtual Schools
2. Transforming Data Into Knowledge and Action
3. Broadband Connectivity
4. Research Efficacy and Impact
5. School Leadership and Professional Preparation

National Ed-Tech Plan Action Steps:
1. Strengthen Leadership
2. Consider Innovative Budgeting
3. Improve Teacher Training
4. Support E-Learning and Virtual Schools
5. Encourage Broadband Access
6. Move Toward Digital Content
7. Integrate Data Systems

So what happened to digital content? And where is improving teacher training?
Are they not as important as the others?

When I asked the Education Department, I was told that the white paper is the secretary’s response to the topics brought up by the participants.

I did not attend any of the roundtables, which were closed to the press. The reason, the department told me in 2007, was so participants could express their views candidly.

But I did interview participants after the first roundtable, and here is some of what I reported:

Business leaders and researchers also had plenty to say at the meeting, stressing the need for teachers’ professional development and describing the potential of technologies, such as handheld assessment devices and video games, to suit specific learning opportunities.

Several educators at the meeting also spoke up:

Mark S. Hannum, a mathematics and physics teacher at Banneker Academic High School in the nation’s capital who presented at the meeting, said, …“Across the board, people decided that the use of technology is more than how many computers are in your classroom, but how you integrate technology into your teaching,” he said.
Mary E. Skipper, the principal of the TechBoston Academy, in Boston, [said] that the school’s use of laptops and data collected from computer-based activities have helped her students overcome learning deficits and contributed to 94 percent of last year’s seniors graduating two- or four-year colleges.
[Mr. Hannum, of Banneker HIgh,] underscored the need for improved professional development of teachers, citing a “big drop-off” in know-how between teachers who are technology stars and those with average skills.

None of these ideas from the first roundtable, at least, are reflected in the new white paper.

The document, however, does suggest that money for technology in classrooms has not always been well spent. It also concludes that more research is needed. Both are points Ms. Spellings has made before.

But that’s as far as she seems willing to go, down the potentially costly and admittedly risky road of robust support for classroom technologies.

Early in Ms. Spellings’ tenure, she held another series of roundtables that led to her creation of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education in 2005. That federal panel released long-range recommendations for the nation’s colleges and universities in August of 2004.

The ed-tech roundtable effort does not appear to have been as productive.

Related Tags:

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

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Biden Admin. Says New K-12 Agenda Tackles Absenteeism, Tutoring, Extended Learning
The White House unveiled a set of K-12 priorities at the start of an election year.
4 min read
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
Steven Senne/AP
Federal Lawmakers Want to Reauthorize a Major Education Research Law. What Stands in the Way?
Lawmakers have tried and failed to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act over the past nearly two decades.
7 min read
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, as Starbucks founder Howard Schultz answers questions about the company's actions during an ongoing employee unionizing campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023. The two lawmakers sponsored a bill to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Federal Will the Government Actually Shut Down This Time? What Educators Should Know
The federal government is once again on the verge of shutting down. Here's why educators should care, but shouldn't necessarily worry.
1 min read
Photo illustration of Capitol building and closed sign.
iStock
Federal Biden Admin. Warns Schools to Protect Students From Antisemitism, Islamophobia
The U.S. Department of Education released a "Dear Colleague" letter reminding schools of their obligation to address discrimination.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview in his office at the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Mark Schiefelbein/AP