U.S. Department of Education (2010) National Educational Technology Plan Washington DC: Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education published its draft plan on educational technology on March 5 (it can be downloaded by clicking here). Secretary Arne Duncan invites comments on the draft National Educational Technology Plan. The plan describes how information and communication technologies can help transform American education. It provides concrete goals to inform state and local educational technology plans, and recommendations to inspire research, development, and innovation. This plan is a draft. “We are open to your comments,” Secretary Duncan said.

It covers the following topics:

Executive Summary
Learning: A Model for the 21st Century
Assessment: Measuring What Matters
Teaching: Improving Learning Through Connected Teaching
Infrastructure: People, Processes, and Technologies for Learning
Productivity: Improving Learning Outcomes While Managing Costs
R&D: Solving Grand Challenge Problems

It takes as its starting point the educational goals of the Obama administration:

By 2020,

  • 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 report argues that:

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.

With regard to learning, it states:

The challenge for our education system is to leverage the learning sciences and modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all learners that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures. In contrast to traditional classroom instruction, this requires that we put students at the center and empower them to take control of their own learning by providing flexibility on several dimensions.

With regard to teaching it states:

In connected teaching, teaching is a team activity. Individual educators build online learning communities consisting of their students and their students’ peers; fellow educators in their schools, libraries, and afterschool programs; professional experts in various disciplines around the world; members of community organizations that serve students in the hours they are not in school; and parents who desire greater participation in their children’s education.

With regard to professional development and training it states:

Episodic and ineffective professional development is replaced by professional learning that is collaborative, coherent, and continuous and that blends more effective in-person courses and workshops with the expanded opportunities, immediacy, and convenience enabled by online environments full of resources and opportunities for collaboration….Clearly, more teachers will need to be expert at providing online instruction.….Many of our existing educators do not have the same understanding of and ease with using technology that is part of the daily lives of professionals in other sectors. The same can be said of many of the education leaders and policymakers in schools, districts, and states and of the higher education institutions that prepare new educators for the field.

With regard to productivity, it states:

To achieve our goal of transforming American education, we must rethink basic assumptions and redesign our education system….Education has not, however, incorporated many of the practices other sectors regularly use to improve productivity and manage costs, nor has it leveraged technology to enable or enhance them. We can learn much from the experience in other sectors. What education can learn from the experience of business is that we need to make the fundamental structural changes that technology enables if we are to see dramatic improvements in productivity.

Lastly, there is a set of recommendations about R&D in learning technologies, which did not impress me – too general, full of jargon and not sufficiently focused on a humanistic approach to learning and in one case recommending research on best practices in online design, when the research has already been done (not that it couldn’t be improved.)

Otherwise, this is an excellent report in terms of its intent and philosophy. It will be interesting to see how or whether it gets implemented.

For a not very informative report on the plan, see:

Laster, J. (2010) Colleges of Education Are Urged to Focus More on Online Learning Chronicle of Higher Education, March 16


  1. I hope and pray that the “National Educational Technology Plan” really plans out the way President Obama wants it to, as I’m tired of seeing student’s come back home less intelligent than they were before they left the house (if you know what I mean)…

    Comment by,

    Aaron Sparks


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