National Ed Tech Plan
I am very excited that our federal government is making the call for schools to be transformed through technology. This is a giant step towards making districts, politicians, parents, students, and teachers take notice. The examples given for ways that technology can transform the way we do things is a good list: accessing primary sources, multimedia, simulations, interactive software, tracking student achievement and adjusting instruction more effectively. I agree with all of those ideas. But comparing NCLB to putting a man on the moon. Where is the support and teamwork that went into that challenge? NASA has access to the best and brightest in science. We do not. The government spared no expense in making the journey to the moon. Not so in education. NASA was not "held accountable" through testing that limited its ability to take risks, be innovative, and accomplish greatness. This was a poor analogy in my opinion.
The part about virtual schools was interesting. I liked the idea that students might only take 1-2 courses virtually that are not offered at schools, but what about taking parts of courses virtually to allow for more flexiblity in the school day. This already takes place in countries like Singapore, where students are given virtual assignments during certain weeks throughout the school year to free teachers up for professional development and committee work.
The action steps were also good. I especially like the concept of moving toward digital content. We started doing this at the school I worked at in CT in the 90's. We used WebWhacker to "whack" websites with appropriate content for science and social studies. Teachers were able to use internet content in their classrooms despite not being online, but more importantly, we could easily update the content as information changed. Textbook companies seem to finally be getting on board with this as well, offering digital content either through CD-Rom or subscription based websites that either replace or enhance textbooks.