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Learning Library Blog New Federal EdTech Plan Drops, Heightens Focus on Design and Use
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The U.S. Department of Education recently released a revised national edtech plan for the first time since 2016. One key upgrade, according to a much-read EdSurge story by Daniel Mollenkamp, is that the new iteration places a strong emphasis on addressing the "quality divide" in edtech implementation.

The updated plan comes in the wake of the infusion of technology in schools that took place during the pandemic. As such, while addressing ongoing access issues, it places a greater focus than past revisions on "design and use"—on how technology can be employed most effectively in classrooms.

In this vein, the report provides extensive examples of successful edtech use in curriculum and learning. It also gives a nod to the importance of tech leaders and specialists in districts, suggesting that "states appoint edtech directors, create digital equity plans and assess how the technology is currently being used in their schools," Mollenkamp reports.

Among other specifics, the report recommends that states, districts, and schools:

  • develop a “profile of a learner/graduate” that is tied to the active use of technology to support learning and targeted competencies;

  • establish "feedback mechanisms that empower students to become co-designers of learning experiences”; and

  • provide ongoing professional learning for educators and school leaders that supports them in modeling digital literacy skills.

Some edtech advocates see the government's new plan as a welcome and overdue resource, saying it provides a holistic vision for how technology can transform learning rather than being treated as a separate, ancillary component within education systems. Mollenkamp writes:

Ultimately, some hope this plan will move the conversation beyond what access students have to tech and toward discussion about how effective that tech actually is in learning. After all, schools have seen a rush of new devices and tools in the past few years, especially since the pandemic forced so much remote learning. But getting devices into students' hands is just one step in lifting education in the digital age.

Digital access issues remain for many students, especially with funding programs lapsing for affordable connectivity in communities and upgrading devices in schools—and the report includes a section on strategies for addressing barriers to equitable access. In focusing on designing innovative experiences for all students, observers note, it also provides a strong pedagogical basis for meeting such challenges.

Read the full story on EdSurge, an independent news project of ISTE + ASCD.

See the ISTE Standards for Students.

Image source: Getty Images