Spring is Here(?): The New National Educational Technology Plan
I have been reading the new National Educational Technology Plan released (NETP) on March 5, 2010. The plan lays out such a revolutionary model of learning that I wonder if it has gone through the sanctions of the U.S. Department of Education or perhaps this signals a change in the directions of the Department, I wish.
The model of 21st century learning described in this plan calls for engaging and empowering learning experiences for all learners. The model asks that we focus what and how we teach to match what people need to know, how they learn, where and when they will learn, and who needs to learn. It brings state-of-the art technology into learning to enable, motivate, and inspire all students, regardless of background, languages, or disabilities, to achieve. It leverages the power of technology to provide personalized learning instead of a one-size- fits-all curriculum, pace of teaching, and instructional practices. (NETP, p. vi).
“Personalized learning instead of a one-size-fits-all curriculum, pace of teaching, and instructional practices.” What a vision! The group that worked for the plan must be congratulated for what they have done and the Department praised for releasing the report.
The Plan contains a list of goals and recommendations in five areas: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity. In each of these goal statements, I have been able to find some key words that I like:
Learning: All learners will have engaging and empowering learning experiences both in and outside of school that prepare them to be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in our globally networked society.
Keywords: all learners, engaging and empowering, in and outside school, active, creative, knowledgeable, ethical, and globally networked.
Assessment: Our education system at all levels will leverage the power of technology to measure what matters and use assessment data for continuous improvement.
Keywords: measure what matters and use data for improvement
Teaching: Professional educators will be supported individually and in teams by technology that connects them to data, content, resources, expertise, and learning experiences that enable and inspire more effective teaching for all learners.
Keywords: supported, enable and inspire
Infrastructure: All students and educators will have access to a comprehensive infrastructure for learning when and where they need it.
Keywords: all students and educators, comprehensive, and when and where they need it.
Productivity: Our education system at all levels will redesign processes and structures to take advantage of the power of technology to improve learning outcomes while making more efficient use of time, money, and staff.
Keywords: redesign processes and structures, making more efficient use of time, money, and staff.
These keywords project a different vision of education from what is reflected in the Administration’s Race to the Top initiative and certainly NCLB:
- Learners as individual human beings, learning takes place in different places and forms, learners must be engaged and empowered, and they will be participants of a globally connected society rather than test takers, standards bearers, or empty vessels waiting to be filled with bits of knowledge;
- Assessment should be done to improve learning and measure what really matters in life rather than labeling students, scare educators, and enforce government mandates;
- Teachers are professionals who need to be respected and supported, enabled and inspired rather than lazy, incompetent, and unethical workers who must be closely watched, constantly monitored, and baited with carrots or scared with clubs.
I hope the recommendations of this plan will be taken seriously by the Department. Moreover I hope the same philosophy will be driving the reauthorization of the ESEA (now under the name of NCLB).