Five ed-tech stories to watch for 2010


States are still waiting to hit bottom and are not likely to do so for another year or two, and education will feel the financial impact for some time after that, said Richard Sims, the chief economist for the National Education Association, at the Software and Information Industry Association’s Ed-Tech Business Forum last month.

At best, Sims said, current conditions will create the way for improvement–but it will be a “long stretch” of improvement until the economy has recovered fully.

Federal stimulus funding for education has helped, but it’s not nearly enough to offset the cuts still to come: A November report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicated that states’ fiscal problems are so great that states might have to make additional deep budget cuts and tax increases in 2010.

“The federal stimulus funds have helped schools, but not as much as hoped,” Mark Bielang, president of the American Association of School Administrators and superintendent in Paw Paw, Mich., said in a statement.

How schools deal with the lingering financial crisis bears watching–and school leaders no doubt will be looking for more ways to save money without cutting valuable educational programs.

Toward that end, eSchool News has put together a special supplement called “Money Matters,” in which district leaders reveal their secrets for balancing school budgets–without dropping what’s important. The guide includes seven proven ways to save on school budgets, ranging from the obvious (turning off computers at night) to the often overlooked (virtualizing software, leveraging partnerships).

Related links:

Money Matters

Schools face tough economic road ahead

Study: Schools face post-stimulus shortfalls

1. What will the new National Education Technology Plan and National Broadband Plan look like?

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is expected to unveil the first draft of the Obama administration’s National Education Technology Plan later this month, and next month the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will submit a National Broadband Plan to Congress. Both plans will influence the direction that ed tech will take in schools for years to come.

In a speech at New York’s Princeton Club on Dec. 1, ED’s new director of education technology, Karen Cator, previewed the national ed-tech plan for more than 200 ed-tech providers and investors at the Software and Information Industry Association’s Ed-Tech Business Forum.

In broad terms, Cator said in an interview with eSchool News, the administration’s ed-tech plan will seek to realize the president’s goal of making the United States first in the world in the percentage of college graduates by 2020 and to give every willing student at least one year of postsecondary education.

The plan will address the imperatives of global competition, Cator said, and it will focus on ensuring that effective teachers are present “in every zip code,” as well as on seamlessly bridging the gap between the wide array of technology students use outside of school and the more limited technology available to them in the classroom. The plan also will promote careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, but it will add an emphasis on the arts, because, as Cator explained, creativity is essential to lifelong success in the age of technology.

The unveiling of ED’s national ed-tech plan might roughly coincide with the release of the FCC’s national broadband initiative, Cator indicated. The dovetailing of those two elements of the national agenda, she said, will provide the best chance in decades for genuine, technology-driven, systemic reform.

Related links:

ED’s new tech chief previews national plan

Federal officials seek a national strategy for getting broadband to every American

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