2016 United States National Education Technology Plan

Future Ready LearningThe United States Office of Education Technology recently released their 2016 Education Technology Plan. The plan reflects on the progress since 2010, where we sit currently, and next steps into the future.

The change in tone of the title of the plan alone holds much to be excited about. Away from the “Learning Powered by Technology” of 2010 and into the “Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education” now in 2016, the progressive attitude shift from the Office of Educational Technology is a breath of fresh air. It feels like we are really starting to emphasize that technology isn’t a bolt on to schools but is truly intended as an integration within education.

The report itself has also taken an infographic approach in the attention to detail. these to provide a more inviting conversation about “what this is”, “who it is for”, etc. It’s clear that this is meant to more than a bureaucratic document and really a roadmap for educators to start conversations with.

As immersive technology has shifted for most from “how do I use this” and into “what do I use this for”, education is catching up quickly to emphasize that technology isn’t in place for the sake of technology being in place, but as a took to really assist educators to best teach in a modern learning climate of problem-solving instead of memorization of facts.

As the 2016 plan admits, there are still plenty of issues such as accessibility and equality to address. The foundation has settled and it’s time to hybrid new and old pedagogy with technology to build authentic learning experiences based on empathy, problem-solving, service, self-efficacy, and personalized, student-lead learning. There’s honest language in this document about learning needing to be a community event with support from home and outside the school (Modern Libraries, Maker Spaces).

Leadership: Creating a Culture and Conditions for Innovation and Change

The area I find interesting is Chapter 3 Leadership: Creating a Culture and Conditions for Innovation and Change. The focus here is building future-ready schools with an infrastructure of technology and foundational thinking about the type of learning we expect to find in US schools. This, of course, all comes down to implementation from leadership in our schools. To build a community of learners that is more than the bubble of a “school”, outreach into where students live and grow must be involved.

Budget is an issue that will continue to come up. This is nothing new except the cost of technology continues to fall and the Open Source movements move into hardware and A.I., technology in education will continue to improve with less financial barriers.

Assessment – How Technology Transforms Assessment

How we assess student progress is reaching an accessible area where assessment can be dynamic, intelligent and truly give a pulse as to the educational progress of a student where in the past, there may have more assumptions and logical guessing than we’d like to admit. Tests can be created quickly without having to default to multiple choice and True/False situations. Measuring complex competencies is maturing and providing near real-time feedback that can allow an educator to modify instruction on the fly.

We also have improvements to accessibilities, language gaps and “all in one basket” situations which are now removed to provide better authentic assessment.

This will continue to improve and increase in speed. A gap of time between testing and receiving feedback may soon be a thing of the past.

Infrastructure and final thoughts

The infrastructure section of this report is lengthy and needs to be detailed. However, the bottom line is clear. Best we can, we need to provide a level playing field of technology access to everyone. By treating the internet as a public utility equally available to all, and integrating tech into our education across all schools, we are stronger as a whole and our learners will grow up with a common sense of community, working together, and a collective problem-solving mindset using modern tools.

While the U.S. Education System certainly has flaws and falls behind much of what we see in other developed countries, this latest document establishes a reboot in the conversation that is progressive and future thinking. There is sound thinking in here for all of us.