Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he hopes the new national ed-tech plan will finally unleash technology's potential to improve learning.

The final version of the new National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) includes a focus on individualized instruction and connectivity, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said meeting the plan’s goals will help the nation’s students enter college and the workforce prepared to compete on a global level.

Duncan unveiled the final version at the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) Education Forum on Nov. 9, about eight months after the federal Education Department (ED) issued a first draft of the plan and solicited comments from ed-tech stakeholders.

“If we accomplish all of these goals, we’ll have realized the advance potential for technology to prepare students for success in the internationally competitive, knowledge-based economy,” Duncan said.

Duncan outlined the five main goals covered in the plan:

  • Using educational technology to fundamentally change the learning process by making it more engaging and tailored to individual student needs and interests;
  • Using ed tech to develop a new generation of assessments;
  • Connecting teachers with their peers and experts so they are always up-to-date on the resources available to them;
  • Building infrastructure that lets schools support access to technology in and out of the classroom; and
  • Harnessing the power of educational technology to increase school district productivity and student achievement.

Duncan noted that the federal Race to the Top program is supporting the creation of next-generation assessments in more than 40 states. These new assessments will be aligned with the Common Core standards in English and math, and they will take advantage of technology’s power to deliver instant results that more accurately reflect students’ abilities. He expressed hope that the new assessments, which are expected to be ready by the 2014-15 school year, will let teachers develop individualized learning plans for their students.

“I am convinced these new assessments will be an absolute game changer for public education,” Duncan said. “For the first time, millions of school children, parents, and teachers will really know if students are on track for college or careers—[and] if they’re ready to enter college without the need for remedial instruction.”

Duncan said many schools have yet to realize educational technology’s true potential to transform learning into a more personalized and productive process. He also said ed tech will never replace the need for great teachers.