14 recommendations for taming the ‘wild, wild West’ of ed tech

State boards should ensure that teacher candidates have robust clinical experiences where technology and online learning are incorporated into the program, the report says.

A disruptive factor exists today in educational technology, according to a new report, because while virtual schools, personal digital devices, and open-source materials are transforming education, these forces are still fragmented and rapidly changing, creating a “wild, wild West” landscape for schools and districts.

State boards of education can play a key role in helping to tame this environment, note the authors of the report, “Born in Another Time: Ensuring educational technology meets the needs of students today and tomorrow.”

“State boards of education, along with their state education agencies, are key to providing the leadership on educational technology issues our school systems need to ensure students are ready for life and work in the digital era,” says the report.

Without a “broad, purposeful approach,” it notes, “education systems are likely to pursue a fragmented course that merely addresses individual policy issues as they happen to arise.”

Watch this video on getting educators involved with state policy, featuring Jeanne DelColle, history teacher at Burlington County Institute of Technology and the 2011-12 New Jersey Teacher of theYear:

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Last year, the National Association of State Boards of Education created a study group to address the challenges of ed tech and digital learning, focusing specifically on how the digital age has affected the learning needs of today’s students.

The 14 recommendations listed in the report are applicable not only for state boards and education agencies, but for anyone looking to improve school or district technology plans:

1. Address digital citizenship and digital literacy. Policy makers should realize that every school community is different, and each is starting at a different place. Some will be ready to implement a full curriculum, while others first need to create common definitions. The study group recommends that state boards urge their districts to address these critical areas and make sure their state education department offers guidance and resources.

2. Design instruction to take advantage of how each student learns now.

3. Create policies that allocate resources based on data, student needs, and student, parent, and stakeholder voices. These key stakeholder groups understand the complexities of the issues involved and can provide the most accurate feedback about what solutions might work best, the report says.

Meris Stansbury

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