For the last year and a half I have been extremely fortunate to work for the Redmond School District. It has been empowering to work with so many caring and dedicated individuals that have our students learning and growth at the heart of everything they do. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be part of such a team.
Earlier last year I found myself in a similar situation, but on a relatively larger stage. I was approached by the Office of Educational Technology (OET) from the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. to be part of a technical working group that would provide insight and experience in a collaborative effort to help revise the National Education Technology Plan (originally released in 2010). The team included leading educators, technology innovators, and researchers from across the country. It was an eclectic bunch. While many of us were educators by profession, some came from other industries and professional backgrounds. It was a humbling experience to work with so many dedicated to the improvement and progress of education in our nation.
The bulk of the work was completed by OET and partners at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Their relentless effort and selfless dedication paid off late 2015 when the Department of Education announced the 2016 plan, Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education.
I belive in this plan. I believe in the work behind it, and I believe in the work ahead of us that the NETP will help guide.
Despite having worked on the plan over the course of 2015, I am still learning from it. As I continue to work through the NETP, I hope to share Redmond’s experiences along the way. And I hope many of you will do the same.
"The National Education Technology Plan is the flagship educational technology policy document for the United States. The 2016 Plan, Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education, articulates a vision of equity, active use, and collaborative leadership to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible. While acknowledging the continuing need to provide greater equity of access to technology itself, the plan goes further to call upon all involved in American education to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology."
The NETP touches on five key areas that must be addressed if we are to truly support student learning in today’s world. While this plan is written (and even titled) with a focus on technology, Learning is at its core.
We once lived in a society, in a world, where “learning" — and by this I primarily mean content — was scarce. The knowledge and information was typically found in libraries and educational institutions. This knowledge was served and consumed in these spaces. With the advent of the information age and the rise of the Internet, such knowledge and “learning" became more and more accessible. We are at the point now where knowledge is an easily accessible commodity, and most of us care around that access in our pockets.
But content knowledge is only the first level of Learning that we need to be focusing on. The NETP does a good job of addressing the need to look beyond such low hanging fruit and begins to hone in on the other facets that make up Learning — such as agency, non-cognitive competencies, and soft skills that are necessary for all learners to find success in and out of school.
I’m not going to dive into the examples or suggestions that the NETP offers. You can begin to read about them here, for yourself. I do, however, want to mention one last piece of the NETP that I feel makes it so great. The NETP’s focus is on technology and transforming learning, but its goal is to do this while providing greater equity and accessibility. We must provide all students with access to greater educational opportunities that help close gaps and remove barriers. Technology cannot do this alone. It takes the human element to make this happen.