Updating the National Education Technology Plan — 2017

Office of Ed Tech
Jan 19, 2017 · 4 min read
By U.S. Navy photo by Greg Vojtko [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In just one year since the release of the 2016 National Educational Technology Plan (NETP), we have witnessed rapid change across the country in fundamental aspects of the educational technology landscape. These changes include:

  • The number of schools that that have access to broadband in their classrooms
  • The types and cost of technology available to schools
  • An evolution in the approach of leaders to the procurement of ed tech solutions as well as a greater emphasis on data security and digital citizenship
  • The advent of new research on the use of technology by early learners and,
  • An increased emphasis on preparing teachers to lead with technology before they arrive in the classroom.

In order to keep pace with the changes we are seeing in schools, districts, and states on an almost daily basis, we will be updating the NETP more regularly than in years past. This is, in part, in response to feedback from stakeholders within the educational technology field that the previous five year update cycle was not frequent enough. With the release of the 2017 update, we are proud to have commenced a pattern of yearly, smaller scale updates to the NETP to better account for the pace of innovation in the field to provide the necessary resources and supports educators and students need.

This publication continues to uphold the plan and vision for equity, collaborative leadership, and active use of technology that was originally put forth in the 2016 National Education Technology Plan. Building upon this base, the 2017 update also highlights some of the progress we have made as well as emerging challenges:

  • We are encouraged by the fact that most classrooms in our country now have access to broadband, yet we know that many that do not are in communities where the potential impact is the greatest.
  • We welcome lower price points for devices designed for school use, but also lament that most ed tech purchases are still based on word of mouth rather than evidence of effectiveness.
  • We look forward to a greater emphasis on the use of evidence as outlined within the reauthorization of ESEA, as amended by ESSA, yet recognize that educators will need assistance in expanding their efforts to infuse an evidence-based culture when it comes to ed tech in their schools and classrooms.
  • We are pleased to find that, in some districts, librarians and teacher leaders are stepping into more prominent leadership roles that leverage their existing skillsets to lead their peers in pedagogically driven classroom technology use. Yet we also see library positions cut back in other districts as a cost saving measure and the under utilization of librarians and classroom teachers as leaders of digital change.
  • We are proud of the growing number of students who work with teachers and peers to become responsible digital citizens in their schools, yet recognize that many of these low-income students, especially in urban and rural areas, lack internet access at home to complete their digital homework assignments and to use powerful digital tools at home to create, to solve, and to communicate that their better-off peers across town take for granted.
  • We are eager to take a step forward in understanding and recognizing how the active use of technology by early learners with adults can positively impact them, yet are concerned by the number of children left alone for long periods of time with a passive digital babysitter.
  • We applaud those who are increasing their efforts to prepare pre-service and in-service teachers to use technology in transformative ways for learning. Yet we know that almost half of our teachers desire more training than they currently receive in using technology effectively.

And against this backdrop, it is now more apparent than ever that the courageous efforts of educators to embrace the role of thoughtful, reflective innovators who work collaboratively with each other and alongside their students to safely explore new learning models, new digital learning environments, and new approaches to working, learning, and sharing is essential if we want technology to be an effective tool to transform learning.

We hope you will review the full 2017 update at http://tech.ed.gov/netp/.

Whether you are reading it for the first time or are revisiting the NETP once more, we are pleased that you have chosen to take that journey with us to better understand how technology can be a powerful tool to transform learning.

Joseph South is Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education.

Office of Ed Tech

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The Office of Educational Technology (OET) provides leadership for maximizing technology's contribution to improving education at all levels.

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