A new report by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) says that the lack of well-defined and consistent policies about educational technology in the nation’s schools is creating troublesome educational disparities. In fact, it might even increase them over time, as computers and eLearning become a more central part of the typical educational experience.

In the report, titled “Any Time, Any Place, Any Path, Any Pace: Taking the Lead on eLearning Policy,” NASBE says that policy makers and school superintendents must develop comprehensive policies about technology. Priorities should be:

• Equal distribution of technology;

• Incentives that support change;

• Technology training for both new and experienced teachers;

• Accountability across geographic boundaries (e.g., statewide instead of districtwide);

• Quality of online course content;

• Licensing of teachers who “cross state lines” by providing online courses; and

• New governance and oversight structures that will enable the setting of a single, consistent policy.

The report says that technology companies are, in effect, setting educational policy by influencing state spending on technology in schools. Numerous government entities have a role in the school system, and this influence can dilute the ability of any one group to promote a comprehensive program. Because this responsibility is not centralized, the better-focused corporate interests often tend to steer the discussion.