The NCTI was established to improve the use of educational technology for all students, even though its special focus is on individuals with disabilities. Its emphasis on “all” is worth noting because often technologies that prove successful with special-needs students turn out to be equally effective for students who do not have those needs. That is why ed. tech. leaders should keep a close eye on this site.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s office of special education and located at the American Institutes for Research, the center’s primary purpose is to bring together educators, administrators, policymakers, technology developers, and vendors to determine how technology can be used to improve learning for special-needs students. To accomplish that goal, it offers access to experts and participation in online discussions about emerging technologies, provides an online database of more than 700 special education technology projects, and has a service called TechMatrix to help educators find useful technology tools and research on math, reading, writing, and assistive technologies.
Don’t feel bad if you didn’t make the NSBA’s list of the top 20 emerging educational technology leaders. Plenty of emerging big names in the ed. tech. world didn’t make it either. And such lists are rarely based on rigorous, scientific analyses and months of discussion. Still, this is a list worth checking out because it has a nice mix of classroom teachers, district-level technology directors, school-based information-technology experts, researchers, central-office administrators, and company officials. One job title that is sorely missing from the group, though, is school principal. Take a look at the list, evaluate the picks, and see what you think. Maybe its authors will be watching you in the future.
Set up to advocate one-to-one computing initiatives, this site has some useful features. The best one, from my perspective, is a daily news feed of articles about such computing and laptop programs. The benefit of this news source is that it is very focused. So, if you’re looking for recent articles on this topic, this is a good place to go. It uses a nice mix of sources, from the BBC to Information Week to the Birmingham News in Alabama. The site also maintains a national database of one-to-one computing programs in schools, which might be worth examining if you have a similar program or are thinking of starting one.
Educators love to find free stuff to use in their schools. So it’s worth noting that Edutopia magazine, a publication of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, rated Thinkfinity.org as the top site for downloading free lesson plans and other educational materials. The rating was based on a survey of Edutopia readers. Previously known as MarcoPolo, Thinkfinity, the Verizon Foundation’s online education portal, features more than 55,000 resources for K-12 education, including standards-based lesson plans.
Compiled by Kevin Bushweller
A version of this article appeared in the January 23, 2008 edition of Digital Directions as Top Picks