Understanding the National Education Technology Plan

When not in school, students use Facebook, iPods, cell phones and more to stay connected, entertained and informed. The National Education Technology Plan sets the goal of getting these current and developing technologies, which are ubiquitous outside the classroom, inside of schools to foster meaningful advances in education. Schools offering Instructional Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Students with computers

How It Began

President Barack Obama established education as one of his main goals when he targeted 2020 as the year America should lead the world with its proportion of college graduates. This means a jump in Americans holding two or 4-year degrees from about 41% to 60%. A key method of achieving this goal is to revolutionize the education system in this country. The National Education Technology Plan is one of several programs designed to help us get there.

The Heart of the Problem

The plan stems from the realization that technology is an ever-present facet of our lives. This is true for children and adults and includes both personal and professional parts of our day. Yet technology is not used to such an all-encompassing extent in the classroom. Rather than getting classrooms wired, many teachers ban cell phones and other devices as distractions. This problem also inhibits teachers and administrators from using technology-based analytical tools to best appraise and help students.

Students with computer

The Role of Technology in Education

Technology can serve several purposes in advancing education in America. First, students need to be taught to effectively use technology as they will in their future careers. While their pastimes may include playing iPad games and updating their Facebook status, schools can teach them to use technology for research, presentations and critical thinking. Technology can also challenge students to develop intellectually and creatively; new technology can force teachers and students out of their comfort zones, engaging with other students who may be next door or across the globe. To do this, students need computers, Internet connectivity and software, all of which the plan supports.

Second, technology enables school leaders to acquire and process data that takes decisions out of the silo and into the cloud. The National Education Technology Plan aims to encourage sharing of statistics and resources across the spectrum, starting with building the physical infrastructure and cloud-based system to support data sharing throughout the nation. This can encourage more efficient uses of limited funding since schools can learn from each other where to find the most opportunity, whether the issue is a new math textbook or a model for teacher accountability.

Among its many other uses, technology can foster teacher education. Teachers may lack professional development opportunities for any number of reasons; they may teach in a remote area that's isolated from conferences or they may be too overloaded with courses to find the time. One of the plan's goals is to provide training to teachers both through technology and on technology. For example, teachers may take a webinar from the comfort of their homes in which they learn to use social networking to connect with other educators.

Many colleges are also promoting education technology by providing students with free laptops.

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