When life (or the U.S. Department of Education [ED], as the case may be) hands you a lemon, don’t let it turn you sour. Instead, use the opportunity to pull together your resources, motivate yourself and your colleagues, and present something educators and education advocates can use to counteract the negative press (see Repeaters, not reporters). Let the challenge inspire you to take positive strides toward fulfilling our field’s need for substantial progress with education technology.

At least, that was the clear consensus of the high-powered group of dedicated educators and education advocates who came together during a special eSchools Work! brainstorming session at the National Educational Computing Conference in Atlanta this summer.

In an informal gathering co-chaired by Coni Rechner of Discovery Education, I invited key thought leaders to consider how we could support educators in their defense of the efficacy of education technology. They generated a wealth of excellent ideas, and here are some of my favorites:
· Launch an eSchools Work! web site to aggregate resources that help encourage, demonstrate, and underscore the efficacy of education technology. The object would be to provide accurate, readily accessible ammunition to those on the front lines in the defense of education technology.
· Solicit 750- to 1,500-word “best practice” write-ups from educators at schools, school systems, colleges, and universities. Archive these articles at the eSchools Work! web site in a searchable database by institution type, enrollment size, project category, district demographics, and location. (To find out how you and your colleagues can participate, please visit http://www.eschoolnews.com/ eSchoolsWork/casestudies.)
· Organize an eSchools Work! video contest in which students produce their own three- to seven-minute video clips about how technology has advanced learning in their school, college, or community. Post these video clips on the eSchools Work! web site, and let members of eSchool News Online pick the winners based on the number of times they view the various video clips. (For more information on how to participate, please visit http://www.eschoolnews.com/ eSchoolsWork/kidvids.)
· Organize and video record meetings between captains of industry (including, especially, those outside traditional technology circles) to talk with interested students about the importance of technology literacy and the role ed tech plays in developing 21st-century skills in future members of the American workforce. Post these video clips on the eSchools Work! web site for the edification and use of educators, education advocates, funding officials, and policy makers.
· In cooperation with Project Tomorrow, issue a call for the creation of a National Student Technology Congress, at which young people from coast to coast might come together to identify the education technology they need and expect from their schools, colleges, and communities. Record and disseminate the proceedings via the eSchools Work! web site and this newspaper, among other media.

Participants in Atlanta offered many other excellent ideas, none of which will be discarded, even though space doesn’t permit including all of them here.

You probably have bright ideas of your own. In that case, please do send your thoughts along to us at eSchools Work@eschoolnews.com. Our next step is to organize a steering committee to set about transforming some or all of these great suggestions into reality.

I’d like to take a moment to thank those organizations that so generously contributed their time and ideas in Atlanta:
Cable in the Classroom
Center for Interactive Learning and
Collaboration
Discovery Education
Hewlett-Packard
Hurricane Education Leadership Program
Intel Corp.
International Society for Technology in Education
National School Boards Association, Technology Leadership Network
Project Tomorrow
Software & Information Industry
Association, Education Division
Texas Computer Education Association

That’s an impressive assemblage, to be sure. But the movement to document and defend ed-tech efficacy is open to all. We need all the help we can get. Why not join us? We’ve decided to make lemonade. With your help, there’ll be plenty to go around.

Links:
eSchools Work!
Setting the record straight

eSchools Work! (Full Report)

eSchools Work!
States: Ed tech is raising student achievement