Here is the verbatim text of ED’s “Seven Major Action Steps and Recommendations”

1. STRENGTHEN LEADERSHIP
For public education to benefit from the rapidly evolving development of information and communication technology, leaders at every level–school, district and state–must not only supervise, but provide informed, creative and ultimately transformative leadership for systematic change.

Recommendations for states, districts and individual schools include:

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    • Invest in leadership development programs to ensure a new generation of tech-savvy leaders.
    • Retool administrator education programs to provide training in technology decision-making and organizational change.
    • Develop partnerships between schools, higher education and the community.
    • Encourage creative technology partnerships with the business community.
    • Empower students’ participation in the planning process.

    2. CONSIDER INNOVATIVE BUDGETING
    Needed technology often can be successfully funded through innovative restructuring and reallocation of existing budgets to realize efficiencies and cost savings. The new focus begins with the educational objective and evaluates funding requests–for technology or other programs–in terms of how they support student learning.

    Funding and budgetary recommendations for states, schools and districts include:

    • Consider a systemic restructuring of budgets to realize efficiencies, cost savings and reallocations. This can include reallocations in expenditures on textbooks, instructional supplies, space and computer labs.
    • Consider leasing with 3-5 year refresh cycles.
    • Create a technology innovation fund to carry funds over yearly budget cycles.

    3. IMPROVE TEACHER TRAINING
    Teachers have more resources available through technology than ever before, but have not received sufficient training in the effective use of technology to enhance learning. Teachers need access to research, examples and innovations as well as staff development to learn best practices. The U.S. Department of Education is currently funding research studies to evaluate the effective use of technology for teaching and learning.

    Recommendations for states, districts and individual schools include:

    • Improve the preparation of new teachers in the use of technology.
    • Ensure that every teacher has the opportunity to take online learning courses.
    • Improve the quality and consistency of teacher education through measurement, accountability and increased technology resources.
    • Ensure that every teacher knows how to use data to personalize instruction.

    4. SUPPORT E-LEARNING AND VIRTUAL SCHOOLS
    In the past five years there has been an explosive growth in organized online instruction and “virtual” schools, making it possible for students at all levels to receive high quality supplemental or full courses of instruction personalized to their needs. Traditional schools are turning to these services to expand opportunities and choices for students and professional development for teachers.

    Recommendations for states, districts and schools include:

    • Provide every student access to e-learning.
    • Enable every teacher to participate in e-learning training.
    • Encourage the use of e-learning options to meet No Child Left Behind requirements for highly qualified teachers, supplemental services and parental choice.
    • Explore creative ways to fund e-learning opportunities.
    • Develop quality measures and accreditation standards for e-learning that mirror those traditionally required for course credit.

    5. ENCOURAGE BROADBAND ACCESS
    Most public schools, colleges and universities now have access to high-speed, high-capacity broadband communications. However, broadband access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year can help teachers and students realize the full potential of this technology. Recommendations to states, districts and schools include:

    • Thoroughly evaluate existing technology infrastructure and access to broadband to determine its current capacities and explore ways to ensure its reliability.
    • Ensure that broadband is available all the way to the end-user for data management, online and technology-based assessments, e-learning, and accessing high-quality digital content.
    • Ensure adequate technical support to manage and maintain computer networks, maximize educational uptime and plan for future needs.

    6. MOVE TOWARD DIGITAL CONTENT
    A perennial problem for schools, teachers and students is that textbooks are increasingly expensive, quickly outdated and physically cumbersome. A move away from reliance on textbooks to the use of multimedia or online information (digital content) offers many advantages, including cost savings, increased efficiency, improved accessibility, and enhancing learning opportunities in a format that engages today’s web-savvy students.

    Recommendations to states and districts include:

    • Ensure that teachers and students are adequately trained in the use of online content.
    • Encourage that each student has ubiquitous access to computers and connectivity.
    • Consider costs and benefits of online content, aligned with rigorous state academic standards, as part of a systemic approach to creating resources for students to customize learning to their individual needs.

    7. INTEGRATE DATA SYSTEMS
    Integrated, interoperable data systems are the key to better allocation of resources, greater management efficiency, and online assessments of student performance that empower educators to transform teaching and personalize instruction.

    Recommendations to states, districts and schools include:

    • Establish a plan to integrate data systems so that administrators and educators have the information they need to increase efficiency and improve student learning.
    • Use data from both administrative and instructional systems to understand relationships between decisions, allocation of resources and student achievement.
    • Use assessment results to inform and differentiate instruction for every child.
    • Ensure Interoperability. For example, implement School Interoperability Framework (SIF) Compliance Certification as a requirement in all RFPs and purchasing decisions.

    (Source: U.S. Department of Education)

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