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Guest Thinkers

UCEA 2007 – How national technology policy REALLY gets made

Friday was the first day of sessions at the UCEA convention. CASTLE sponsored a panel discussion on national K-12 educational technology policy, moderated by Drs. Sara Dexter (U. Virginia) and Matt Militello (U. Massachusetts-Amherst).

Listen to the podcast!

 (73.9 Mb, 81 minutes)


  • Hilary Goldman, Director of Government Affairs, ISTE
  • Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, Executive Director, SETDA
  • Doug Levin, Senior Director of Education Policy, Cable in the Classroom
  • Some main themes

    • In the mid– to late 1990s, there were LOTS of national funding initiatives aimed at K-12 ed tech – all were replaced by EETT, which is much smaller and more limited – today, EETT has declined from over $700 million to $272 million – in the past, the Bush administration has even attempted to zero out the EETT budget – Congress has saved the program but at increasingly lower levels
    • There is a perception that the job is done
    • Teachers have not been trained how to use technology to improve student learning outcomes
    • Educators are moving slow – lots of missed opportunities – extremely incremental change in a revolutionary environment
    • TPCK model – preservice teachers should not take separate ed tech classes – should be integrated with content-specific methods courses
    • We are finally starting to get research that is helpful for policy purposes – for example, the eMints program in Missouri and other states
    • The amount of education that people need is astounding – state and federal policymakers, education associations, the public – they make major assumptions about what is happening that just aren’t true
      • Example: because nearly all schools are wired, people truly think that means that all kids have access to the Internet – far from being true – only buildings and teacher computers are wired – every student is NOT wired and connected
      • Example: lots of money has been poured into student information systems – as a result, people think that teachers are getting data that informs their day-to-day instructional practice – again, this is far from true – in most districts, the data that are in these systems are not that granular
      • You have to use sexy vocabulary – the terms of art – that capture policymakers’ attention – right now it is global competitiveness
      • High school reform and other change efforts – technology is not specifically articulated as a component – it thus gets lost or left out
      • Ed tech policy is still fairly immature – we’re in our tweens
      • Groups like NEA, AFT, NSBA, AASA, NASSP, and NAESP are not knowledgeable about technology – they advocate for Title I, IDEA – they don’t advocate for ed tech
      • The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is trying to change the conversation rather than trying to figure out how to fit ed tech into existing paradigms / models / laws – this is a real herky-jerky process
      • There is not, and has not been, a systemic long-term research agenda, funded by policymakers, to answer key research questions about K-12 educational technology
      • What kind of research is needed to further the cause of K-12 educational technology?
      • Most education academics are naive about how policy gets made – don’t really understand the policy process – much educational research is not pertinent or helpful to policy conversations and the questions that are being asked by policymakers – we have to remember that ed tech is only one voice of many
      • ETAN – – you don’t have to get to DC – can plug in your e-mail and zip code and get resources and information – just 12 letters can make a difference – meeting in local offices back home also make an impact – asking questions at local town halls sponsored by legislators
      • We were blessed in the 1990s with the folks that were in the U.S. Department of Education (US DOE) – there are lots of places where this can break down – there are not strong advocates there today – one place to focus advocacy efforts is the US DOE, not just legislators
      • Why has school leadership been left out of the ed tech policy conversation and policy efforts? – historically, efforts were focused on affecting the classroom, not on changing the system – promising levers appear to be 21st century skills, data-driven decision-making, and cybersafety
      • We could draft Title II legislation around professional development for administrators regarding technology leadership
      • [left to right: Sara Dexter, Matt Militello, Hilary Goldman, Mary Ann Wolf, Doug Levin]


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