US Secretary of Ed Question #4: Govt. Role in Educational Technology

4. What should be the federal government's role in supporting the use of technology in our educational system?

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Note: This is the fourth of four questions being posted. For those in the U.S., Secretary Spellings has asked for ideas on the integration of technology in education. There is a form on the ed.gov site, but no ability to dialog or even leave your contact information if you fill it out. Therefore, I have created a forum thread for each of Secretary Spellings' questions, and propose that we discuss them here and invite her office to view the dialog on this website and even participate. This is a terrific opportunity to not only respond but to also show the benefit of Web 2.0 technology in addressing this kind of issue.

Tags: spellings

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Money!
There is more, but so much could be done if we really focused on getting the tools and professional development. I have just completed 5.5 years as a school board member and there just is not enough money to go around. In our current funding structure, there just is not budgetary room for the widespread innovation that needs to occur. This money can’t flow to our students with grants targeted at just our nation’s poor. Every student in every school needs to opportunity to be in a classroom with a highly qualified teacher armed with the tools and training they need.
Meg Ormiston
www.techteachers.com
meg@techteachers.com
The messages are coming in strong. Well-stated, Skip, David, and Meg! Classmates on Classroom 2.0, what do you think? What is the government's role? What are we aiming for? What needs to be done, and what support is needed?

From the ed.gov site on Margaret Spellings http://www.ed.gov/news/staff/bios/spellings.html: "Secretary Spellings is working to ensure that every young American has the knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st century." Also: "Secretary Spellings has been a leader in reform to make education more innovative and responsive." She has asked for contributions of ideas for reform, so let's use this opporunity to make a start.

We are all in this together. As we have been doing on Classroom 2.0, let's continue to join our forces and share our resources. We can help find the way to a much more resilient, dynamic, vigorous education. As Skip said, we are "...stewards of the most precious resource avilable to us--our children." This is the most important work of all. The new age is requiring brand new capabilities of us as educators--and we are up to it.

Secretary Spellings, we are honored to be asked to share viewpoints with you in this most important endeavor. We are fully engaged in the task of guiding our young people into becoming all they need to be in this complex and interconnected new age. Thank you for listening to us as we work on this project.
The federal government should invest heavily in research, to figure out what it is that children learn better with a computer, connected to the Internet, researching, collaborating, analyzing and manipulating, experimenting and exploring, and producing knowledge — and what is it that they learn better sitting in a classroom led by a teacher. We should restructure the school day appropriately to those findings.

The federal government must also assure that every student achieve literacy skills relevant to today’s information landscape, that reading, writing, and arithmetic are ONLY foundations to that literacy, not the sole definition of it.

The federal government must also assure that every learner have personal and convenient access to today’s information landscape, meaning that every learner have a computer and broadband access to the Internet.

This is a national problem!
David has stated what I believe to be two of the most important functions of government and technology education:
--support for students to achieve the technology literacy skills necessary for success
--equal access to the tools.
We have spent over a decade in the Information Age, to the point that many feel it can be overwhelming if they haven't kept up with technology. We need to make technology at least as accessible as the One Laptop Per Child initiative. Rather than viewing our roles as preventative or reactive, we need to be the forerunners of how to best utilize technology in daily life.
I believe that we need to think "out of the box" when we think about technology and learning. Any business who has invested in technology can tell you that it's not the original cost of technology that kills them, but the constant upgrades and the costs associated with training and using the technology effectively. Many leaders do not plan for these costs, and thus are not using their investments as effectively as they might.

I think education leaders should consider this with great concern. Wiring all schools and providing hardware (computers, servers, printers, etc.) is a huge expense, which the taxpayer may or may not be willing to pay. However, since this expense has to be repeated over and over again as computers and software needs to be upgraded, schools will constantly need to find new tax dollars to keep their technology current with rapidly changing trends.

While all of this is happening, the businesses around most schools are buying new technology and upgrading it regularly. Their employees are innovating new ways to use this technology in solving problems, learning, communicating in teams, etc.

Thus, why not use Federal incentives to motivate businesses to make their space and technology available to youth during non-work hours and on weekends, and to encourage employees to serve as volunteer tutors, mentors, organizers and leaders of workbased programs that teach k-12 kids to use the technology in all the ways it is use for real world applications.

I belive that such a concept could make first rate technology and tech mentoring available to more kids in high poverty neighborhoods than any existing plan, and at a far lower short and long term cost to the taxpayer. I write about ways business needs to be involved in pulling kids to careers in my http://tutormentor.blogspot.com blog and in the Tutor/Mentor Institute section of http://www.tutormentorconnection.org
...the federal government's role in supporting the use of technology...
The heart of our federal system is to redistribute wealth from have's to have-not's.
It is to spotlight best practices and either push or pull for the bar to be raised to that point.
Keywords for the US.ED role: leadership (vision, initiative, intelligent articulation/directing), enabling (pilot >institutionalization >evaluation), and monitoring. In more concrete terms, the Department of Education needs the keenest people, and political tools ('politics is the art of the possible'), and sustained funding.
I really do like the idea of showcasing success stories for educational technology, and providing resources for duplicating those successes. We don't have to agree on every definition of success to really benefit from such a resource. Does such a resource already exist? Does it have a dialog component?
This is a great idea!! Skip, what a wonderful resource this would be, and how beneficial it'd be for the nation if we could get this out.
Funding so that schools can afford to receive more training, and provide the tools (and up keep of the technology) in the classrooms. Also there are sites like 4teachers.org that are great support tools-keep those sites up and for free!
I want to propose some solutions that can be implemented in the almost immediate future:

-Promote and protect open source programming-
Imagine how much money your district could save on licensing costs.

-Establish a safe and separate education oriented www/internet-
Think of how much easier using technologies would be without the fear of illicit and inappropriate content.

-Fund More Research-
As was stated on another post research needs to be conducted as to what technologies and practices work and which can be discarded. Is it worth the cost of getting every student a laptop? Do Smartboards increase student achievement/ understanding?

-Direct Connections Between K12/Universities/Industry-
Student teaching and internship programs nationwide should be evaluated. Do these programs help teach future teachers to use technology? Universities and companies need to sponsor more programs and internships for students. The ones in my district are good, but don't go far enough. These can be encouraged with tax incentives and leadership.
The federal government needs to dedicate funds to school districts specifically for technology integration. Districts could then dedicate personel for this role and establish monthly professional training sessions. The most common issue I hear is that school districts do not have the funds for establishing a consistent technology integration program and teachers feel that they do not have the time.
As mentioned by Skip, our educators of today need to be confident in the integration of 21st Century skills that engage the students mentally and physically. Too many students sit in classrooms and just listen and take notes. As an educator, I realize there are some students that learn best that way. That is why some of the best professional technology education programs concentrates on differentiated learning. Even as a strong believer in technology integration, not all projects or lessons need to be student centered and always use new technology. But the key ingrediant to be successful to being successful is a balanced mixture of technology and higher level order of thinking lessons.

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