The National Education Technology Plan: A Bright Future for Educational Technology

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The role of an educational technologist is more important than ever, given the mandate of the 2010 National Education Technology Plan draft, titled “Transforming American Education: Learning by Technology.” (Download the Executive Summary.)

I must admit that I don’t get too excited reading government reports, but this one did get my attention. The directives, the suggestions, the wording are all part of an educational technologist’s linga franca, and make sense. I think the title says it all and validates what we attempt to achieve in the field of educational technology: transforming education through technology.

This new National Education Technology Plan states the Obama administration’s directives at the beginning:

  • We will raise the proportion of college graduates from where it now stands [39%] so that 60% of our population holds a 2-year or 4-year degree.
  • We will close the achievement gap so that all students – regardless of race, income, or neighborhood – graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers.

The plan clearly states that technology is “at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work” and that we must “leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences, content, and resources and assessment that measure student achievement in more complete, authentic, and meaningful ways.” The plan continues with:

Technology-based learning and assessment systems will be pivotal in improving student learning and generating data that can be used to continuously improve the education system at all levels. Technology will help us execute collaborative teaching strategies combined with professional learning that better prepare and enhance educators’ competencies and expertise over the course of their careers. To shorten our learning curve, we can learn from other kinds of enterprises that have used technology to improve outcomes while increasing productivity.

Gosh, these statements are what we practice and preach continually–technology can engage and motivate learners; it can provide authentic and meaningful ways to collaborate, share, and contribute; it can enable and support critical thinking and problem-solving; it can enable differentiated learning and individualized instruction; it can be efficient (online compared to face-to-face instruction); and can provide extensive data to help us continually improve. They couldn’t have said it better.

So if you are pursuing a career in educational technology, the future couldn’t be brighter. If you are currently in the field, maybe we will see some changes in the way we train teachers, the opportunities we provide students in the schools, and the tools we allow them to use. It looks like a bright future for our field.


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