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Sidenote: The very first post I wrote for ReadWriteWeb just about eight months ago addressed the draft version of the National Education Technology Plan. I was thrilled to get to write the story (any story, for that matter) for ReadWriteWeb, because even though the draft had been out a week or so, none of the other major tech blogs had covered its release.

"No pageviews in education stories," seemed the consensus but I wrote the story anyway. And thankfully, people read it. So now, I have a job.

The Department of Education released the final version of 2010 National Education Technology Plan on Tuesday, the culmination of 18 months of input from educators and industry folks. The aim of the plan, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is to "dramatically improve teaching and learning, personalize instruction and ensure that the educational environments we offer to all students keep pace with the 21st century." These 21st century competencies, according to the Department of Ed, include critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication.

The plan looks at several areas, learning, assessment, teacher professional development, and infrastructure.

The plan recognizes the importance of mobile technologies that give students access to information both in and out of the classroom, both at school and at home. "The opportunities," says the plan, "are limitless, borderless, and instantaneous." The plan calls for an emphasis on "always on" and lifelong learning. But in order to support that, it says that we need to "ensure students and educators have broadband access to the Internet and adequate wireless connectivity both in and out of school." It adds that we need to make sure that everyone has at least one Internet ready device at home.

The plan also calls for schools to move to the cloud and to adopt open educational resources. It makes an argument for data portability and interoperability so that students' information -- schoolwork and personal data -- is not "trapped" in one system.

The plan emphasizes curriculum standards and assessment, calling for "actionable feedback" and "data-driven" decision-making. In its recommendations, it calls for research into how "embedded assessment technologies, such as simulations, collaboration environments, virtual worlds, games, and cognitive tutors, can be used to engage and motivate learners while assessing complex skills."

The National Education Technology Plan gets a lot of things right, I think, in arguing that we have to move teaching and learning forward with a thorough embrace of new technologies, if we are to reshape education in this country. And several of its recommendations are, I think, pretty crucial -- widespread adoption of OER and 1:1 computing, a push for universal broadband access.

So the NETP is great, right up until you reach the "Getting Started Now" section of the plan, where most of the action items begin with the word "convene." Considering developing this plan took 18 months and considering we're already two years into the Obama Administration, I think it's time for more than just meetings in helping support and promote education technology. I'm waiting to see the National Education Technology Budget and a formal schedule for (at the very least) delivering broadband and mobile technology access to all students.

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Audrey Watters


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