OET Round-Up: A Guide to OET’s Guidance, Publication, and Resources
Through multiple administrations, the Office of Educational Technology (OET) has benefited from some fairly unique aspects of our founding. OET’s existence is required by law as is its specific mission, both of which were established with bipartisan support in 1993.¹ The spirit of bipartisanship, public-private partnership, and collaboration across diverse stakeholders continues to this day, greatly strengthening our work.
Our office was also given the charge to “develop a national vision and strategy” to “provide leadership to the Nation in the use of technology to promote achievement…and to increase opportunities for all students…” That dual emphasis on visionary leadership and individual equity drives our work each day. In recent months, OET has released a number of resources designed to inform and accelerate state and local action, provide new perspectives, and support educators in their efforts to apply technology in thoughtful, engaging ways to transform learning.
In every case, the resources below were created with extensive input from some of the best minds and most insightful educators in the field. Collectively, they represent a chorus of committed voices from all over the country who shared with us their hard won wisdom and innovative, research-based practices.
Guidance on Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Implementation
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became law in December 2015, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). We recently released guidance regarding the Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) program, under Title IV, Part A, in two documents. This grant program, newly authorized by the ESEA as amended by ESSA, focuses on activities to support well-rounded education, safe and healthy students, and the effective use of technology.
Dear Colleague Letter: Federal Funding for Technology
We updated our Dear Colleague Letter, which outlines how funds under Titles I through IV of ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), may support the use of technology to improve instruction and student outcomes, as long as those solutions align with the purpose and constraints of the Title.
Non-Regulatory Guidance: Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE)
In October 2016, the U.S. Department of Education released Non-Regulatory Guidance: Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grants. This guidance highlights some of the ways that SSAE funds can be used to meet the following goals for improving the effective use of technology:
- Supporting high-quality professional development for educators, school leaders, and administrators to personalize learning and improve academic achievement.
- Building technological capacity and infrastructure.
- Carrying out innovative blended learning projects.
- Providing students in rural, remote and underserved areas with the resources to benefit from high quality digital learning opportunities.
- Delivering specialized or rigorous academic courses and curricula using technology, including digital learning technologies and assistive technology.
Non-Regulatory Guidance: Using Evidence to Strengthen Education Investments
In October 2016, the U.S. Department of Education also released Non-Regulatory Guidance: Using Evidence to Strengthen Education Investments. This non-regulatory guidance is intended to help stakeholders make more effective education investments by leveraging rigorous, relevant evidence to improve outcomes for kids under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The first part of the guidance describes key steps for using evidence as a part of a larger decision-making process, which also includes a focus on identifying local needs, engaging stakeholders, and continuous improvement. The second part of the document provides guidance on the definition of “evidence-based” in ESSA, including recommendations on how to identify the level of evidence for various interventions.
Updates to the National Education Technology Plan
The National Education Technology Plan (NETP) is the flagship educational technology policy document for the United States, formerly updated by the Office of Educational Technology every five years. Because of the rapidly changing ed tech landscape, the NETP is now updated every one to two years. The NETP underwent a major revision in 2016 and was updated incrementally in 2017.
2016 National Education Technology Plan
The 2016 National Education Technology Plan sets a national vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make ubiquitous learning possible. The plan consists of five sections — learning, teaching, leadership, assessment, and infrastructure — and the principles and examples in the document align with Title IV(A) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
2017 Update to the National Education Technology Plan
The 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update is the first annual update of the NETP and carries forward the same themes outlined in the 2016 NETP while providing refreshed data, updated definitions, and new examples. The Office of Educational Technology will continue to update the NETP annually.
Expanding our Scope
Over the past three years, we expanded our guidance from a primary focus on supporting states as they implement K-12 ed tech strategy to include 1) early learners and those who care for and teach them, 2) higher education institutions, pre-service teachers, and the emerging ecosystem of post-secondary ed tech innovators, 3) district and other school leaders including those involved in ed tech procurement, and 4) ed tech developers who build the digital tools used by educators and students.
The joint policy brief includes four guiding principles for families and early educators that promote developmentally appropriate use of technology in homes and early learning settings.
The brief, developed by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, also includes a call to action for researchers and media and app developers, highlighting topics for further research and encouraging the development of research-based products.
Higher Education Supplement to the National Education Technology Plan
The Higher Education Supplement to the National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) is a companion document that builds on the principles described in each of the NETP’s five sections — learning, teaching, leadership, assessment, and infrastructure — and examines them in the context of higher education.
The Higher Ed supplement explores a higher education system that is designed around the needs of all students, that draws upon the power of educational technology to improve instruction, learning, and assessment, and that recognizes the role of technology in accelerating our efforts to address issues of access, affordability, and completion at a systemic level.
In the 2016 National Education Technology Plan, OET identified four guiding principles for the use of educational technology in teacher preparation programs to ensure that pre-service teachers are leaders, when using technology effectively in classrooms.
Additionally, OET challenged teacher preparation programs across the country to publicly commit to implementing these principles. As of January 2017, 77 teacher preparation programs have committed, and four working groups,coordinated by OET and externally led, have been formed to further the work.
Supporting States and Districts
Our efforts to support district and school leaders fall into three areas:
- Connectivity and device management — Helping leaders understand what is needed from a technical, policy, and funding point of view to bring broadband to the classroom and to individual devices.
- Professional learning — Supporting leaders in providing job-embedded, ongoing professional development opportunities that support the transition to transformative digital learning.
- High Quality, Affordable Digital Resources — Ensuring that teachers, librarians, and curriculum directors know how to search, curate, create, and effectively use a combination of openly licensed, proprietary, and free educational materials to support instructional goals and learning philosophy.
The Future Ready Schools Infrastructure Guide provides practical, actionable information to help district leaders (superintendents, principals, and teacher leaders) navigate the many decisions required to deliver cutting-edge connectivity to students. It presents a variety of options for district leaders to consider when making technology infrastructure decisions, recognizing that circumstances and context vary greatly from district to district.
Future Ready Leaders
Personalized Professional Learning for Future Ready Leaders features 50 videos of school leaders from around the country sharing innovative approaches to integrating technology to support learning.
The videos are based on a systematic review of research undertaken to define the characteristics of Future Ready leadership. The synthesis revealed four focus areas: Collaborative Leadership, Personalized Professional Learning, Personalized Student Learning and Robust Infrastructure. Collectively, the videos constitute virtual site visits hosted by some of the most forward leaning district leaders sharing lessons learned and effective policies and practices that align with these four focus areas.
Future Ready Librarians
The Office of Educational Technology and Alliance for Excellent Education launched Future Ready Librarians, an expansion of the Future Ready initiative aimed at raising awareness among district and school leaders about the valuable role librarians can play in leading, teaching, and supporting districts as they transition to personalized digital learning in schools.
Future Ready Librarians highlights connections between the skills and expertise of librarians and the goals of schools and districts transitioning to personalized digital learning. If properly trained and supported, librarians are well positioned to be leaders in the digital transformation of learning happening in schools.
#GoOpen District Launch Packet
In October 2015, the Office of Educational Technology launched #GoOpen, a national movement that encourages states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. Openly licensed educational resources have enormous potential to increase access to high-quality educational opportunities in the United States. Use of these resources has enabled school districts to empower teachers and repurpose a portion of funding typically spent on static textbooks for other pressing needs, such as investing in the transition to digital learning.
The #GoOpen District Launch Packet is the first guide for strategically adopting and maintaining openly licensed educational resources as an integral part of the curriculum plan for the district. It is a collection of best practices, examples, and resources for districts getting started in this work that commit to #GoOpen.
Personalizing the Learning Experience Blog Series
Building on the NETP’s focus on effectively using technology to personalize student learning, this blog series shares new insights from schools with a particular focus on 1) defining personalized learning, 2) the importance of district leadership teams implementing evidence-based practices, 3) the shifting role of the learner, 4) developing understanding of necessary changes in how we allocate human capital, 5) design considerations of the next generation of personalized learning systems, 6) the need for new resources and tools, including openly licensed educational resources, and 7) the power of personalized learning to provide transformative learning opportunities for all students. Throughout this blog series, short videos from our Future Ready Leaders project and spotlight stories from our Stories of Ed Tech Innovation site are embedded to highlight personalized learning in action.
Opportunities abound for software designers and developers to create impactful tools for teachers, school leaders, students, and their families. This guide for developers, startups and entrepreneurs addresses key questions about the education ecosystem and highlights critical needs and opportunities to develop digital tools and apps for learning. Crowd-sourced from knowledgeable educators, developers, and researchers who were willing to share what they have learned, this guide is designed to help entrepreneurs apply technology in smart ways to solve persistent problems in education.
Ed Tech Rapid Cycle Evaluations (RCE) Coach
The Ed Tech RCE Coach builds upon the research and work in Expanding Evidence (2013) which calls for rigorous, rapid approaches to gathering evidence of the impact of ed tech solutions. The Ed Tech Rapid Cycle Evaluations (RCE) Coach is a free and openly licensed web-based platform that helps schools and districts conduct evidence-based short cycle evaluations of educational technology.
Working with Institute of Education Sciences (IES), OET contracted Mathematica to design and field test tools that school leaders, entrepreneurs and researchers can use to conduct rapid cycle tech evaluations and make evidence-based decisions regarding ed tech acquisitions. This project is designed to establish a standard for low-cost, quick-turnaround evaluations of ed tech. In addition to generating evidence on specific apps, the project is developing protocol tools for conducting rigorous rapid cycle evaluations of apps that practitioners, developers, and researchers can use beyond the scope of this evaluation. The goal is to fundamentally change the procurement and implementation process to include evidence at every stage of decision making.
As we transition into 2017, OET has never had a stronger team prepared to lead our ongoing collaborations and maintain our current momentum.
1 The Office of Educational Technology was conceived with bipartisan support from Orrin Hatch [R-UT], Nancy Kassebaum [R-KS] and Ted Kennedy [D-MA], and established by amendment of the Department of Education Organization Act under (Sec. 233) of Goals 2000: Educate America Act (H.R. 1804).