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Putting a World-Class Education at the Fingertips of All Children
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State-by-State Progress on Educational Technology
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Background Information on the National Educational Technology Plan

In response to the educational opportunities made available by dramatic technological innovations in the early and mid-1990s, U.S. Secretary of Education released the nation's first educational technology plan in 1996, Getting America's Students Ready for the 21st Century: Meeting the Technology Literacy Challenge. This plan presented a far-reaching vision for the effective use of technology in elementary and secondary education to help the next generation of school children to be better educated and better prepared for the evolving demands of the new American economy.

Due in large part to markedly increased federal, state, local and private investment in technology for education, the nation has made tremendous progress toward achieving the 1996 national educational technology goals. These investments in computers and Internet access, professional development, technical support and content have allowed many elementary and secondary school teachers and students to reap the benefits of powerful teaching and learning applications.

The latest research and evaluation studies demonstrate that school improvement programs that employ technology for teaching and learning yield positive results for students and teachers. Given that many schools and classrooms have only recently gained access to technology for teaching and learning, the positive outcomes of these studies suggest a future for education that could be quite bright if the nation maintains its commitment to harnessing technology for education.

The adoption of new and emerging technologies by schools and classrooms offers even more reason to be hopeful. With sufficient access and support, teachers will be better able to help their students comprehend difficult-to-understand concepts and engage in learning, provide their students with access to information and resources, and better meet their students' individual needs. If we take advantage of the opportunities presented to us, technology will enhance learning and improve student achievement for all students.

Given the tremendous progress made in integrating technology into teaching and learning and the continued advances in the affordability and capabilities of technology, the need to move beyond the 1996 goals became evident. In the fall of 1999, the U.S. Department of Education undertook a strategic review and revision of the national educational technology plan, in consultation with the full range of stakeholders: educators, researchers, policymakers, students, parents, and higher education, industry and other leaders. The outcome of this strategic review was five new national goals for technology in education.

Working together to achieve these goals constitutes a major leadership imperative facing those seeking widespread improvements in teaching and learning. As a nation, we should pledge to meet these new goals:

NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY GOALS

Goal 1: All students and teachers will have access to information technology in their classrooms, schools, communities and homes.

Goal 2: All teachers will use technology effectively to help students achieve high academic standards.

Goal 3: All students will have technology and information literacy skills.

Goal 4: Research and evaluation will improve the next generation of technology applications for teaching and learning.

Goal 5: Digital content and networked applications will transform teaching and learning.

In committing to achieve these goals, everyone has a role to play: federal, state and local governments; education; nonprofit organizations and associations; the private sector; communities; and families. For each of these goals, there are numerous strategies that can be undertaken to ensure continued progress in using technology effectively for education.

A National Strategy for Technology in Education

Goal 1: All students and teachers will have access to information technology in their classrooms, schools, communities and homes.

An integral part of school improvement and reform efforts in the 21st century, in the United States and abroad, will be student and teacher access to educational technology, such as computers connected to the Internet. Universal access to the Internet will help end the isolation of teachers; exponentially expand the resources for teaching and learning in schools and classrooms; provide more challenging, authentic and higher-order learning experiences for students; and make schools and teachers more accountable to parents and communities.

The quality of Internet access is critical. Broadband access will be the new standard. Slow, unreliable connections that cannot support interactivity or rich multimedia content will no longer be sufficient. To take advantage of access to technology for improved teaching and learning, it will become increasingly important to build and support network infrastructures-wired or wireless, desktop or handheld-that allow multiple devices to connect simultaneously to the Internet throughout every school building and community in the nation.

To realize the goal of universal access to educational technology for students and teachers, we should ensure sustained and predictable funding for technology; ensure that technology plans reflect the educational needs of students and are regularly updated; improve the affordability, reliability and ease of use of educational technology; ensure that school buildings and facilities are modern; strengthen our commitment to eliminating the digital divide; and ensure that all students have equal opportunities to access and use technology.

Goal 2: All teachers will use technology effectively to help students achieve high academic standards.

Most teachers have been prepared for a model of teaching dramatically out of step with what is needed to prepare the nation's students for the challenges they will face in the future. Recent reports by the American Council on Education, the CEO Forum on Education and Technology, the Milken Exchange on Education Technology, the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, among others, all identify opportunities to enhance teacher quality and teacher preparation, particularly as they relate to the effective use of technology in education.

Ensuring that the nation has effective 21st-century teachers requires more than just providing sufficient access to technology for teaching and learning. We should improve the preparation of new teachers, including their knowledge of how to use technology for effective teaching and learning; increase the quantity, quality and coherence of technology-focused activities aimed at the professional development of teachers; and, improve the instructional support available to teachers who use technology.

Goal 3: All students will have technology and information literacy skills.

The need to prepare students with the skills they need to participate fully in our increasingly technological society has become a major priority for the nation. A meaningful, unified approach to providing students with the skills they will need for their futures must be more than a checklist of isolated technology skills; rather, these skills are only a first step in assuring all our children become proficient information and technology users.

Also necessary are information problem-solving skills, such as how to define tasks, identify information seeking strategies, locate and access information, determine information's relevance, organize and communicate the results of the information problem-solving effort and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the solution. The call for this new "21st-century literacy" in no way supplants current efforts by states and districts to set and even raise academic standards for students; it simply reflects the fact that the bar for an educated citizenry and workforce continues to rise to reflect changes in society.

In requiring these skills of students, we will ensure that the opportunities made possible through the use of technology will be available to all students as they progress through school, regardless of personal or socioeconomic factors. Even for those students who
do not pursue technology careers, ensuring technology and information literacy skills will provide a number of benefits.

To ensure that students are prepared for their future we should: include technology and information literacy in state and local standards for what students should know and be able to do; ensure students use technology appropriately and responsibly; develop new student assessment tools; and strengthen partnerships with industry to help meet the workforce needs of the future.

Goal 4: Research and evaluation will improve the next generation of technology applications for teaching and learning.

At the dawn of the 21st century, we are still at the beginnings of a technological revolution that is bringing dramatic changes to our society. This technological revolution will not automatically translate into a similar revolution in teaching and learning. While we have learned a tremendous amount about the implementation and use of technologies for teaching and learning in the past few years, the need for an expanded, ongoing national research and evaluation program to improve the next generation of technology applications for teaching and learning is profound.

To implement such a program requires a sustained, multi-disciplinary collaboration of learning scientists, technologists, and subject-matter experts. Numerous organizations have pointed out the urgency of this national need, including the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, private charitable foundations, independent research institutes and representatives of academia.

To ensure that research and evaluation will improve the next generation of technology applications for teaching and learning, we should: initiate a systematic agenda of research and evaluation on technology applications for teaching and learning; encourage state and local evaluations of technology programs; and support the dissemination and use of research-based information to improve teaching and learning.

Goal 5: Digital content and networked applications will transform teaching and learning.

Digital content and networked applications will support transformative changes in our approaches to teaching and learning. In order for these changes to lead to increased educational opportunities for all students, digital content and networked applications must be independently judged to be of high quality (both in terms of grounding in learning science and pedagogical effectiveness), well-documented, comprehensive and available for all grades and subject areas, and have the power to inspire or motivate students. In addition, they must be easy to find and access, easy for students and teachers to use, and accessible to people with disabilities.

Today, there exists tremendous opportunities for the creation of powerful digital content and networked applications. For instance, digital content and networked applications offer direct opportunities to enhance learning by helping students to comprehend difficult-to-understand concepts; helping students to engage in learning; providing students with access to information and resources; and better meeting students' individual needs. In addition, technology applications can increase parental involvement and improve the accountability and efficiency of school administration.

To ensure that digital content and networked applications will transform teaching and learning, we should: ensure administrators and policymakers are technologically literate; support efforts to increase our understanding of how to improve teaching and learning through partnerships within and across sectors; identify leadership opportunities provided by technology to offer better ways of accomplishing educational goals; continue and expand efforts to digitize rich educational materials consistent with copyright laws; encourage the aggregation of demand for resources and services to attract better and more effective technology-based services for teaching and learning; support educators and technologists in defining what digital content and networked applications should be available to support teaching and learning; remove barriers to purchasing digital content and networked applications; recognize developers of high-quality digital content and networked applications and exemplary adoption of educational technologies; and support the integration of digital content and networked applications into state and local standards and curricular frameworks.

The Leadership Imperative

The use of technology in education must remain a national priority. It must be at the core of the educational experience, not at the periphery. Now is the time to renew our commitment to the future by challenging the nation to take bold action in hastening the coming of the future of education. The leadership imperative is clear. Collectively, these new goals for technology in education represent an updated, high-level strategy for ensuring that all students will benefit from enhanced learning opportunities afforded by new and emerging communications and information technologies.


 
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Last Modified: 01/06/2004