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Draft National Education Technology Plan 2010


“By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”


—President Barack Obama, Address to Congress, February 24, 2009


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Executive Summary PDF
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Welcome to the draft of the National Education Technology Plan. We encourage you to host discussion groups with various stakeholders and look forward to your comments, ideas, and links to appropriate videos, stories and research. Commenting is available at the bottom of each page, enabling you to provide comments within the context of the plan and we will make this feature available for the next sixty days. Thank you.
Please click here to review comments policy.


UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who has commented on the plan over the past sixty days. On Friday, May 14th at 5PM EDT, we will close the public commenting on this website and update the National Education Technology Plan draft.


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Comments on the DRAFT National Educational Technology Plan 2010

Prepared by:
National Association of Blind Lawyers
1660 South Albion Street, Ste. 918
Denver, Colorado 80222


I serve as President of the National Association of Blind Lawyers, the largest organization of blind and visually impaired lawyers in the nation. Many of our members direct their professional efforts at representing students who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise have disabilities. Additionally, virtually all of us have navigated the educational system as blind/visually impaired individuals.

We write today to indorse wholly, the comments of the National Federation of the Blind. At all levels of the plan, the needs of students with disabilities must be made clear. Accessibility must be considered on the front end and incorporated into the design at all levels. Separate but equal is not the proper or efficacious approach. The Department of Education has the historical opportunity to advocate for the rights of students with disabilities and should avail itself of that opportunity.

I thank you for your attention to this letter. Do not hesitate to contact us with questions or to discuss this matter further.

Scott C. LaBarre, Esq.
President, National Association of Blind Lawyers

Comments on National Educational Technology Plan
Prepared By: Burton Blatt Institute
Syracuse University
900 S. Crouse Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13244
(202) 296-2041
May 14, 2010
The National Educational Technology Plan calls for “all students – regardless of race, income, or neighborhood – [to] graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers.” The fact that disability is not included appears to indicate an assumption by the Department’s Office of Educational Technology that it is acceptable or inevitable for disability to be a determining factor in whether a child graduates from high school ready to succeed. In fact, if the NETP is truly to lead to a “revolutionary transformation rather than evolutionary tinkering,” it must deal with accessibility of educational technology. Our students with disabilities, including print disabilities and hearing disabilities, have traditionally been left behind in education – forced to rely on “special” formats cobbled together and generally both too little and too late. Students with disabilities have lower graduation rates than students without disabilities and, not coincidentally, lower employment rates than adults with disabilities.
New technologies, including the internet, electronic textbooks, and distance learning, should, for the first time, even the playing field for many of these students – allowing them access to educational materials wherever they are and in whatever format they need. However, without focused attention and commitment, that promise will not be fulfilled and students with disabilities will be left even further behind as their peers are able to take advantage of new technologies. The NTEP misses the opportunity to give this issue the attention it deserves as a Grand Challenge. Instead, it provides a bullet point on learners with disabilities and a sidebar on NIMAS.
The NETP fails to recognize the significant limitations of reliance on NIMAS, which, because of an unnecessarily narrow definition of eligible students, fails to serve significant numbers of students with print disabilities. Pointing to NIMAS as a solution is evidence that, as it applies to students with disabilities, the Department of Education is satisfied with “evolutionary tinkering.” The bullet point on learners with disabilities simply notes that digital resources can “easily be made accessible through assistive technologies.” While digital resources could be more easily made compatible with assistive technologies than print materials, this bullet point ignores the fact that that accessibility is not actually happening, in part because of a lack of attention to the issue by the Department of Education. Moreover, the bullet misses the tremendous opportunity to focus on accessibility of digital resources through mainstream technologies, rather than access through special, expensive assistive technology.
The NETP fails to explicitly consider accessibility issues in a number of areas it purports to seek transformation. For example, STEM materials (Goal 1.3) remain a significant barrier for students with print disabilities. Merely having access to broadband internet, computers and new learning tools (Goal 4) will not assist students with disabilities unless accessibility is built in to the internet, the devices and the learning tools and effective, affordable assistive technology is available.
The new National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies could offer tremendous potential to ensure that accessibility features and assistive technologies are developed along with and incorporated into new education technologies, if only that were explicitly part of its mandate. Again, this is a missed opportunity in the NETP.
We would propose including an additional Grand Challenge designed to ensure that students with print and hearing disabilities can become full participants in, and beneficiaries of, our educational systems as follows:
5.0: Design and validate a national inclusive educational technology infrastructure that facilitates lower cost development and ubiquitous delivery of accessibility using mainstream and assistive technologies, coupled with cloud based accessibility services, to ensure that all learners, including those with disabilities, can benefit fully from education.
At the very least, the omission of significant disability issues from the NETP demonstrates a failure by the drafters of the plan to involve the disability community, technology accessibility experts, and even other departments within the Department of Education (e.g., the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services). We would encourage the Office of Educational Technology to solicit additional input regarding the technology issues facing students and teachers with disabilities in order to transform educational technology for all learners.

By my reading of the NETP, the emphasis on UDL suggests a plan that is designed to meet the needs of all learners, students with special needs included. See pages 18-19 and 31 of the full report.

First and foremost, I do hope that there have been opportunities for the public to comment on this plan that extend beyond the web. If this is the only means, or the only simple means, of submitting comments for review, comments will likely be biased towards those who are more comfortable with online technology, likely those who are younger and are not part of the K-12 education profession.

Secondly, speaking of bias, I am greatly concerned with regards over the OET director having direct ties to private corporations, particularly one who stands to gain much from the recommendations put forth in this plan. If the United States government is truly interested in doing what's best for students, they would not let corporate interests corrupt the integrity of this plan, and of the educational profession as a whole.

Thirdly, to address the issues "within the context of the plan:"

1) There is absolutely no mention of how this plan is to be funded. As a technology coordinator for a rural K-12 school with a weak tax base located in a state writing IOUs to schools, we really have no finances to allocate for a plan of this magnitude. The federal government continues to order us to do more, and do it with less.

2) There is a severe disparity of funding for technology in schools. There are individual districts in our state who utilize their strong tax bases to pass referendums which strengthen their individual programs. I am sure there are plenty of inner-city districts throughout the country that also struggle with funding, while nearby suburban settings feel no pain. While some can afford to keep up-to-date with everything that's latest-and-greatest, most of us only wish we could have what they take for granted. Funding provided to support this plan could just give more to those who already have plenty.

3) Technology evolves so rapidly, it is a waste of time, training, and money commit to "new technology," as described in recommendation 4.3. If we had jumped head-first into across-the-country funding for technology training and equipment just two years ago, we would be still stuck in the "olden days" of MySpace and netbooks. Looking at all that now, would we still think it was worth the billion-dollar investment? But thankfully, now we know that it's Facebook and iPads that are here to stay, right? But maybe, just maybe two years from now it'll be Frontyard and vFonez, or whatever the new gotta-have-it-stuff is called. If this plan implies that the only good technology is "new technology", we'll never be able to keep teachers trained in what's most up-to-date, and we'll keep wasting money in the training process. Over the last six years as technology coordinator, the most effective, worthwhile, and accessible technology in the classroom has the following attributes: it has been around for at least 7 years, actively supported and developed for at least 7 years, consistent in its design and purpose for at least 7 years, and has been developed with purpose, rather than appeal, in mind. Two excellent examples that come to mind are MAP testing administered by the NWEA and Accelerated Reader developed by Renaissance Place. These are two examples of technology that I believe have been successful at improving the learning environment, providing more in-depth information to teachers, and guiding the overall instruction of students.

Now lastly, please permit me to add a few tidbits that extend beyond the original intent & purpose of these comments:

I really take offense to much of the language in this Technology Plan. Statements like "Technology...enable[s], motivate[s], and inspire[s] all students, regardless of background, languages, or disabilities, to achieve" make technology sound like the hero and teachers like the villain. Nothing could be further from the truth. It has always been, and always will be, teachers who do the enabling, motivating, and inspiring. Technology is only as smart as the programmer who designs it, and it's only as effective as the teacher who wields it. If a piece of technology is effective at improving instruction and enhancing the classroom setting, it's not the technology we should thank, but rather those that know how to use it. Besides, at the end of the day, when those students walk down the isle, who do they thank? As for me, I have yet to hear a valedictorian thank their Blackberry for the success that they achieved.

Stephen Lien
Math Teacher & Technology Coordinator
Laporte School District, Laporte, MN
email: slien[at]laporte[dot]k12[dot]mn[dot]us

Comments on the DRAFT National Educational Technology Plan 2010

Prepared by:
National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
(410) 659-9314

We appreciate the opportunity to provide comments on the draft plan entitled, “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology” as released by the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education, on March 5, 2010. The below comments offered by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) express our serious concern that this plan fails to recognize the need for the U.S. Department of Education to provide concentrated leadership, in both policy and practice, in order to ensure that students with disabilities can take full advantage of the opportunities offered by emerging educational technologies in America’s classrooms.

We are pleased to see the National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) embraces principles of universal design for learning, including for students with disabilities. However, the attention the NETP pays to accessibility for people with disabilities is disproportionately minimal to its importance. The significance of accessibility to people with disabilities must play a more prominent role within and throughout the NETP. Because accessibility to students and teachers with disabilities relates to every aspect of the NETP, the impact on people with disabilities should be acknowledged consistently and repeatedly throughout the report. Further, because accessible mainstream technology requires specific and significant considerations beginning in its design phase, accessibility for people with disabilities must be treated with greater detail in the NETP, as opposed to merely a bullet point within the section on universal design.

Overall, what is missing from the NETP is an appreciation of the opportunity and challenge that technology presents for teachers and students with disabilities. We have the opportunity to change the paradigm—to drastically reduce the necessity for separate and unequal special education resources by allowing, for the first time, persons with print disabilities in particular to have the same access to education as their nondisabled peers. If properly implemented, we have the opportunity to ensure that access to educational materials is a nonissue for a blind student or one with cerebral palsy who cannot hold her head and hands steady enough to read a book. At present, these students are consigned to a separate and not equal access, and the mainstream resources (many of which will be developed by mainstream, highly capitalized technology companies) will always outstrip any separate special streams.

The challenge is that as technologies are adopted in the schools, the disability community will be left behind and thus left out. Because of the logarithmic pace at which technology develops, there is no such thing as being a near-follower of technology and if the early decisions are made without consideration of students and teachers with disabilities, then the educational gap between those with disabilities and those without will widen from the width of the Grand Canyon to that of the Pacific Ocean. If the message of inclusive technology is not to be lost, it must be stated not just as a bullet point in a section on universal design but be included consistently and repeatedly (as when a goal is stated for equal outcomes for persons without regard to income or race, but not for persons with disabilities), and with particularity.

So that the report can strike effective notes, let’s briefly consider some of the barriers. First, there is the “cubby-holing” of accessibility at the Department of Education. For example, the Department of Education funds grants for both accessible technology and for mainstream educational technology, but in the latter case it fails to include accessibility as a requirement in the RFP or in the actual grant itself, thereby perpetuating a separate and unequal status for those with disabilities. This dichotomy is to be found throughout the educational system. Universities and colleges, for example, routinely procure and adopt new technologies, such as course management systems, iTunes U, and digital reading systems like the Kindle without any consideration for their accessibility, and it is nearly unheard of for the CIO of a college, university, or a school system to consult with their own disability service offices in selecting the technology that is adopted.

Without market demand or insistence by the Department of Education on compliance with federal law, the result, inevitably, is inaccessible technology and a deepening discrimination against those with disabilities. It should be noted that the barriers are not technological in nature and that mainstream access occurs when it is required, as witnessed by (1) the latest version of Blackboard becoming substantially more accessible after Cal State refused to let Blackboard bid while its course management software was inaccessible; (2) iTunes U becoming fully accessible after the NFB threatened Apple’s collegiate partners with law suits; and (3) Amazon announcing it would produce an accessible Kindle after the Department of Justice secured consent decrees from the colleges to cease and desist its inaccessible Kindle pilot projects.

Although these examples come from higher education, the lesson is equally true for K-12. Unfortunately, however, disability groups do not have the legal opportunities to be an agent for change in K-12 that they do in the college arena. Thus, the responsibility of the Department of Education to take a leadership role here is correspondingly greater.

At present, by largely confining accessibility to people with disabilities to a bullet point within the NETP, the Department of Education loses a unique opportunity to ensure that technology is transformative for this group. It is also critical that the demand be stated unambiguously: That all technology that is adopted be accessible. Since this is the law, it is a reasonable request. It is in that spirit that we offer the following suggested actions for inclusion in the final version of the plan:

1. Throughout the NETP, “disability” should be added when identifying achievement gaps. Blind students and other students with disabilities are underserved in the same way as students of a racial minority or of a lower socioeconomic status. To ensure the current inequality of service delivery is addressed, the NETP must include disability as an overarching theme as it does race, income, and neighborhood.

2. The standard of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) cited in the NETP is very broad and as a result deemphasizes the type of accessibility required for viable nonvisual access. The UDL definition should be appended to include items 3.a.i and 3.a.ii below.

3. Far too many of the interactive educational technologies that enrich the learning experiences of students today are inaccessible to blind, dyslexic, and other print-disabled children. If educational technology continues to be made without the consideration of accessibility at the outset, the gap in service delivery—and consequently achievement—between those students with print disabilities and those without will grow exponentially. Accessibility fits the definition of a “grand challenge problem” as outlined in the NETP and should be added as an additional problem to address. The problem should be addressed in the following manner:

a. Research should be done in collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind and other blindness and print disability organizations to create standards for the development of accessible educational technologies.

i. The standards will ensure the nonvisual experience with technology is as rich as the visual experience.

ii. The standard will require that the ease of use of all technologies is the same regardless of whether the means of access is visual or nonvisual.

b. Once standards are developed they should be published and manufacturers of educational technology should be required to adhere to the standards when producing new technologies.

4. Accessibility must be treated with particularity within the NETP. Though there are some overlapping issues between students with disabilities, English language learners, pre-k students, and low-income and minority learners, accessibility for learners with disabilities is distinct. Substantial action must be taken in the design phase of technological development to produce an accessible product. For this reason accessibility should be addressed both throughout the report and in a separate section. The necessity of accessibility needs to be prominent in this report to ensure that all learners can truly benefit from the resulting technological and pedagogical reform.

5. As the medium of textbook production shifts from physical books to digital content, the field must move away from the NIMAS standard—a separate and inferior regulation—and capitalize on mainstream technology. The production of mainstream accessible textbooks is a far superior solution for students with disabilities. This issue should be addressed in the separate section on accessibility that we recommended in item four.

One of the best ways to help incorporate technology is to consider online colleges and degree programs. Online learning is a great way to save time and money from commuting to and from classes, leaving you more time to spend on your studies or with family. It is also the greener choice, cutting back on commuting.

There are so many great online degree programs and accredited online colleges.

"21st century learning," "global economy,". "cross-border, crosscultural collaboration," and on 114 pages not a single mentioning of foreign/world language learning.

"For students without disabilities, technology makes things easier.
For students with disabilities, technology makes things possible."
--M.P. Radabaugh

I am pleased to see that UDL (Universal Design for Learning) was incorporated in the plan. In fact, pleased is not the word. Thrilled is the right word. It is a concept I hope all of our schools embrace as it will serve not just students with disabilities, but all the students in the classroom, who have many different backgrounds, and many different needs. Like many others who have commented, I am dissappointed that Assistive Technology (AT) was not incorporated in the plan, and hope that it will be incorporated in the revision. The scope of this plan will filter down to state technology plans, which will filter to school district technology plans, effecting all our students for years to come. Although UDL will benefit many students, it will be a long time before that model will be fully embraced, and even when it is, there will still be students who will need additional assistance with accessing their curriculum. The law mandates that this be provided, but it is far from a seamless or easy process. Currently many technology decisions are being made on state and district levels that simply don't take into account the 10% of our student population who have identified disabilities. The money truly isn't available or made available for needed AT purchases, which, for the most part, might not have been necessary if accessibility were considered at the forefront. Please, don't leave any child behind.

I am an individual who has been intimately involved in developing, delivering, and supporting the use of fully-accessibility educational technologies K-20. I am also intimately familiar with the accessibility issues, challenges, and opportunities as they relate to technology in the classroom.

It is my experience and opinion that it is reasonable, technically possible, economically feasible and profitable for companies to develop education technologies that are fully-accessible to a majority of students with disabilities.

Over the past 10 years the use of technology in the classroom has experienced exponential growth. For example, the National Center for Educational Statistics 2009 survey (1) on teachers’ use of educational technology in public schools identifies the following:

1. Ninety-seven percent of teachers had one or more computers located in the classroom every day, while 54 percent could bring computers into the classroom. Internet access was available for 93 percent of the computers located in the classroom every day and for 96 percent of the computers that could be brought into the classroom. The ratio of students to computers in the classroom every day was 5.3 to 1.

2. Teachers reported that they or their students used computers in the classroom during instructional time often (40 percent) or sometimes (29 percent). Teachers reported that they or their students used computers in other locations in the school during instructional time often (29 percent) or sometimes (43 percent).

3. Teachers reported having the following technology devices either available as needed or in the classroom every day: LCD (liquid crystal display) or DLP (digital light processing) projectors (36 and 48 percent, respectively), interactive whiteboards (28 and 23 percent, respectively), and digital cameras (64 and 14 percent, respectively). Of the teachers with the device available, the percentage that used it sometimes or often for instruction was 72 percent for LCD or DLP projectors, 57 percent for interactive whiteboards, and 49 percent for digital cameras.

4. Teachers indicated that a system on their school or district network was available for entering or viewing the following: grades (94 percent), attendance records (93 percent), and results of student assessments (90 percent). Of the teachers with one of these systems available, the percentage using it sometimes or often was 92 percent (grades), 90 percent (attendance records), and 75 percent (student assessments).

5. Ninety-seven percent of teachers reported having remote access to school email, and of these teachers, 85 percent used this remote access sometimes or often. Eighty-one percent of teachers had remote access to student data, and of these teachers, 61 percent used this type of access sometimes or often.

6. Teachers sometimes or often used the following for instructional or administrative purposes: word processing software (96 percent), spreadsheets and graphing programs (61 percent), software for managing student records (80 percent), software for making presentations (63 percent), and the Internet (94 percent).

7. Results differed by low and high poverty concentration of the school6 for the
percentage of teachers that reported their students used educational technology sometimes or often during classes to prepare written text (66 and 56 percent, respectively), learn or practice basic skills (61 and 83 percent, respectively), and develop and present multimedia presentations (47 and 36 percent, respectively). Percentages are based on the teachers reporting that the activity applied to their students.

8. The percentage of teachers that reported that the following activities prepared them (to a moderate or major extent) to make effective use of educational technology for instruction are 61 percent for professional development activities, 61 percent for training provided by school staff responsible for technology support and/or integration, and 78 percent for independent learning.

9. The percentage of teachers that reported spending the following number of hours in professional development activities for educational technology during the 12 months prior to completing the survey was 13percent for none, 53 percent for 1 to 8 hours, 18 percent for 9 to16 hours, 9 percent for 17 to 32 hours, and 7 percent for 33 or more hours.

10. Of the teachers who participated in technology-related professional development during the 12 months prior to completing the survey

* 81% agreed that ―it met my goals and needs,
* 88 % agreed that ―it supported the goals and standards of my state, district, and school
* 87 % agreed that ―it applied to technology available in my school, and;
* 83% agreed that ―it was available at convenient times and places.

The significant increases in the use of education technology parallels what is happening on all other fronts. For example,

* The number of internet users has risen from approximately 361 million (2) ten years ago to 1.8 billion (3) users at the end of 2009. This represents a 26.6% cumulative average growth rate. If this growth rate continues half the world’s population will be using the internet by the end of 2012 (4).

* Web-based social networking communities are now frequented by over half-a-billion individuals every year (5).

* 4.1 billion SMS messages are being sent on a daily basis (6).

* LinkedIn, an Internet-based business networking community has over 65 million members in 200 countries (7). LinkedIn is accessible to a greater than lesser extent. Because of this, organizations of individuals with disabilities are able participate and interact with each other.

* The number of organizations using web-delivered applications is increasing rapidly. There are 25 million users of Google applications.

* There are 6,500 online college courses offered (9).

* Shopping and making travel arrangements online is less expensive than brick-and-mortar alternatives. The trend in online learning is pointed upward.

* Technology is woven into every aspect of life as we know it today... including education.

* When technology is inaccessible to students with disabilities seeking to access the same educational resources as students who do not have a disability, it violates their civil rights and significantly and negatively impacts the quality of their education… and ultimately their whole lives.

To demonstrate why I believe that it is reasonable, technically possible, and economically feasible to provide a majority of students with the assistive technology they need to excel in school, I present the following facts and examples:

Up until recently, students who are blind had to pay $300-$400 (10) extra for screenreading software in order to use a cell phone. Then along came Google Android (11) a free, open source, operating system for wireless smartphones. A smartphone is a mobile phone offering advanced capabilities, often with PC-like functionality. Thanks to Google scientists and engineers, all Android smartphones come with a free screenreader and other accessibility applications. The iPhone12 and iPad13 also include free accessibility features. Google and Apple are not in business to lose money. They would not be integrating accessibility features into their smartphones for free if it were technically difficult, expensive or, if they lost money doing so.

Google provides free interfaces, development tools, platforms, marketing tools and distribution resources companies need to develop accessible mainstream educational applications15. .

Our National Broadband Plan (16) is shaping the future of issues that matter to all of us. Broadband networks and applications are critical to the competitive advantage and future success of our country. Broadband will serve as the platform to stimulate the creation of innovative education.

We've known it for a long time: the web is big. The first Google index in 1998 already had 26 million pages, and by 2000 the Google index reached the one billion mark. Google has now indexed far in excess of one trillion unique URLs(17). Internet users conduct over two billion Google searches every day(18).

Georgia Tech’s sonification lab (19) is using free, open source, software developed by NASA Learning Technologies (20) to create fully-accessible, free, web-based resources designed to enable the participation and enhance the performance of America’s students with print disabilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) (21) . These organizations would not be making the volunteer commitments of technology and resources if achieving their access-focused technology objectives were unreasonable, technically impossible, or economically unfeasible. They would all have better things to do… especially in today’s poor economy.

Thanks to research being funded by the department of education (OSEP) (22) students with disabilities can now have access to free, portable, high-quality, assistive technology software. This software benefit students with disabilities, and the schools they attend, in the following ways:

* Enables students attending any school/university to use their AT software on practically any PC they desire/need to use;

* Significantly reduces the cost of providing AT software to students who desire/need to use it;

* Reduces incompatibility/interoperability issues with applications currently installed on the PC being used;

* Eliminates vandalism and innocent corruptions of PC-based AT software since portable AT applications are not installed on the PC being used. Students simply carry their AT software, personal files, and configuration files with them;

* Eliminates licensing limitations that preclude students from using AT software on any PC they desire/need to use;

* Eliminates the problem of too few AT software-equipped computers in schools, colleges, libraries, community centers, places of employment etc.;

* Improves transition outcomes for AT software users from school to school, high school to college, high school to employment and in adult life in general;

* Eliminates financial losses due to AT software abandonment;

* Eliminates acquisition time and red tape;

* Eliminates installation problems; and,

*Eliminates the stigma of having to use "special" PCs.

ATutor (23) is an Open Source Web-based Learning Content Management System (LCMS/LMS) and social networking environment designed with accessibility and adaptability in mind. Administrators can install or update ATutor in minutes, develop custom themes to give ATutor a new look, and easily extend its functionality with feature modules. Educators can quickly assemble, package, and redistribute Web-based instructional content, easily import prepackaged content, and conduct their courses online. Students learn in an adaptive, social learning environment

It’s important that our tax monies be spent wisely. It’s important that we make intelligent decisions when purchasing technologies for use in schools. It’s time to drive change in the fabric of AT software industry. They have not reduced the prices of many of their applications in the past 20 years. All other types of software have enjoyed significant price decreases during that same period. So long as tax-payer dollars foot more than half the bill for commercial AT software… prices will not decrease. It’s time for competition to rule. It’s time to establish laws that mandate that a school justify spending $800-$1,000 to purchase a commercial AT application rather than using free AT software and paying the developer for doing good work and maintaining their applications.

The old argument that Commercial AT software is better than free software is no different than saying that Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, etc. is better than Open Office or Google apps which are free. There have been over 2 million downloads. Open source software can be very economical and robust.

I vote to create a team of knowledgeable, assistive technology software developers, open source professionals, systems change experts to work with the developers of this education plan to be more specific and set specific goals as they relate to accommodating the access needs of students with disabilities.

It’s technically possible, economically feasible, reasonable… and there is not better time than now.


(1) 1. Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Statistics. Teachers’ Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: 2009

(2) 361 million:

(3) 1.8 billion:

(4) 1.8B x 126.6 x 126.6 x 126.6 = 3.65B

(5) Social networking statistics:

(6) 4.1 billion:

(7) LinkedIn:

(8) Google apps:

(9) Online courses:

(10) Nuance TALKS:
Mobile Speak:

(11) Google Android:

(12) iPhone accessibility:

(13) iPad Accessibility:

(14) Android Market:

(15) Apps4Android:

(16) National Broadband Plan:

(17) Google indexed websites:

(18) Google Searches:

(19) Georgia Tech’s Sonification Lab:

(20) NASA Learning Technologies:

(21) Educate to Innovate:

(22) U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Program Grants H327A060066 (08/01/06 - 07/31/09) and H327A090058 (08/01/09 - 07/31/12)


How much do you think it will cost to the American Citizen ?

I, too, echo the comments that have been made regarding UDL and AT. That being said, as is stated in the document, specific actions need to be taken to provide education professionals, and those training to enter the field of education, the skills to strategically use technology to meet the needs of their students, fostering development of 21st Century Skills. As part of these actions, careful attentions needs to be focused upon the development of skills relating to the use of technology to promote UDL environments as well as the use of AT to meet specific needs of students with disabilities. The skill set to do so needs to start during preservice training and continue through professional development of those practicing. Partnerships between higher education institutions and the technology industry need to be forged so that preservice teachers and other future education professionals can receive hands-on authentic experiences where they develop an understanding of the array of technologies available (both for UDL purposes and assistive technology) and how those technologies can be used to positively impact student learning and outcomes.

The Emphasis on UDL and Assistive Technology is very impressive. UDL nwill certainly benefit all children not just those with identified special needs. I applaude the developers of the plan for this direction.

For many years, educators have struggled to get the best tools to support students' needs built into their instructionsl plans - for students with differing needs or disabilities, these tools are often assistive technologies. There is not a good articulation between the systems that manage or make decisions about general educaitonal technologies in schools, and those that make decisions about assistive technologies to support students' access and learning needs. This may be due to the lack of common standards for technology integration in schools that truly address the issues of both educational technology and assistive technology. Universal Design for Learning is an excellent framework for developing the "curriculum" (goals, methods, materials, and assessments, as per CAST, Inc.) to be as accessible as it possible can be, through good design, for ALL students - but, I believe, CAST would agree that many varied tools are necessary for the goal of UDL to be attained. This National Education Technology Plan offers a unique opportunity to clearly define the path by which technology integration and use can be effectively achieved in every US classroom. We need to consider the needs of ALL of our learners, and include in the NETP reference to assistive technology as "tools that support the multiple and flexible means needed for students with disabilities to access, participate in, and achieve educational benefit through the use of educational technology, in an educational environment the embraces the Universal Design for Learning framework".

I would like to echo the comments made below about Assistive Technology (AT). We need to strive towards a Universally Designed Environment and eliminate barriers for all students. However, specific needs will often require additional assistive technology. Until we have models of UDL where every disability issue is met, there will be a need for Assistive Technology.

I am saddened that Assistive Technology was left out of this plan. Too often we see schools purchase new computers for everyone but special education. Special education gets the hand me downs. AT software is often purchased but not installed for over 6 months because it was not part of the plan. These are just some of the consequences of when we don't acknowlege and plan for assistive technology right from the start.

I applaud the inclusion of UDL, Accessible Instructional Materials. I deeply appreciate that you model the vision of Accessible Instructional Materials by offering this plan in many different formats.

I am pleased with the general direction of the new tech plan and impressed with the work that has gone into it. I would just like to request that assistive technology which is so important for individuals with disabilities not be overlooked. While universal design for learning is important, we still need to remember that there are some technologies needed that will be outside of the universal design. Students who require augmentative communication devices in order to communicate their wants, needs, and ideas are critical for a small but important group. In addition wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility devices are extremely important for those students who need them in order to access their education. Finally, those students who cannot access standard computer keyboard need to have a variety of input and output options available. How we plan for and provide for our students with low incidence needs will be overlooked if not clearly spelled out in the plan.

To Mr. Duncan, Mr. Shelton, Ms. Cator and Mr. Plotkin:

My following comments are grounded in 15 years in the elementary classroom using technology and project based learning as a vital part of my overall classroom education planning. In addition, for the last 4 years, I've taught online edtech classes to pre-service and in-service teachers in elementary, middle, and high school. Before teaching, I was a technical writer/editor in the computer industry, so I am well versed in technology. I have been managing and running educational classroom Internet projects for most of my teaching career, and now I am completing a Doctoral program in Learning Technologies at Pepperdine University.

Here is an achievable Direct Request to the DOE regarding Internet access for teachers:
Page 54 states: "These include the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires the use of electronic filtering on school networks. In some cases this requirement creates barriers to the rich learning experiences that in-school Internet access should afford students." While this CIPA blocking approach does protect students, it also blocks teachers from accessing meaningful learning content throughout the Internet. The problem is that schools implement CIPA but generally do not provide open access for teachers. By this I mean, that teachers need to be able to access social media such Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Ning, and so forth, all of which provide meaningful communication, professional growth, and content that teachers can use to meet goals stated elsewhere in the national Technology Plan (Executive Summary p.vii critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication). The Department of Education, for example, has a Twitter account ( Twitter News and information which is blocked by nearly every public school in the country. We asked Jim Shelton to address this situation and devise a message to get out to the schools of America.

School districts need a direct statement from the Department of Education noting that filtering is NOT meant for teachers. Each teacher in the United Stated needs one unblocked computer, reasonably password protected, used only by that teacher for accessing any resources the professional educator chooses. This needs to be stated countrywide, now.

My Pepperdine University Learning Technologies colleagues and I, on April 28, 2010, met in the Department of Education offices with Jim Shelton (Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement), Hal Plotkin (Senior Policy Advisor), and on April 29, 2010 with Karen Cator (Director for Office of Educational Technology). We expressed our support for innovations in learning using technology, but made the very clear statement that the current approach is top heavy on assessment, and very light on learning - and we recognize that the National Educational Technology plan mentions 21st Century learning, communities, and so forth, but makes far more references to gathering data to show achievement.

This approach illustrates a conflict: in a test oriented environment with teachers stressed and devoting more time to the test, more time to analyzing which students need tutoring to raise test scores, more time actually "practicing" the test, the chance for innovative student learning experiences will all but disappear. Also, teachers under these pressures are not likely to be joining online communities of practice, are not likely to be inquisitive about Open Educational Resources (OER), are not likely to be integrating higher order thinking project based learning practices. With their school ratings and their jobs at stake, teachers will be focusing on raising test scores, so that the words "Technology Use" will really mean drilling programs that promise to raise test scores - this is not using technology wisely, but it is what schools are doing right now across the country to avoid the punishment of NCLB (now renamed ESEA), and to hopefully acquire some of the Race to the Top competition money. Students lose.
So, while the ideas of the Technology Plan are sound in very many respects, it is short-sighted to expect that the detailed innovations and recommendations can occur in the current assessment-heavy environment. The system (our students and teachers) is literally under pressure - that pressure needs to be relieved in order for space to be made where innovations can grow.

Terry Smith
Pepperdine University
Learning Technologies Doctoral Student
Graduate School of Education and Psychology
Los Angeles, CA --

As an Adult Education professional, I’m pleased to see so many progressive concepts in the NETP, including personalized learning, online learning communities, teaching as a team activity, e-portfolios for learners and teachers, and moving away from seat time as a basis for funding. Adult educators are exploring all of these concepts, and the NETP will help us do more to educate other professionals in our field. It would be even more useful for us if adult education were mentioned specifically, either in the text or in the examples.

As one example, USA Learns is a Web site, created with federal funds, where immigrants and others can study English independently or as part of a program. The site uses a variety of technologies to allow students to listen, record their speech, read, write, and interact with the content.

The section of the NETP on Serving the Underserved (pp.19-20) describes the population served by the adult education system – low-income and minority learners, English language learners, learners with disabilities, and the adult workforce. This would be a good place to address adult education specifically and include an example.

Marian Thacher, OTAN

A Response to the NETP from an Adult Education Perspective

The National Education Technology Plan opens with a big vision:
“By 2020, we will raise the proportion of college graduates from where it now stands [39%] so that 60% of our population holds a 2-year or 4-year degree [and] …close the achievement gap so that all students – regardless of race, income, or neighborhood – graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers.”

The adult education community embraces this vision, but it is abundantly clear that in order to realize it, the nation must make substantial efforts to reengage adults who have left secondary and postsecondary settings or who have immigrated to the U.S and enable them to complete their education. The purpose of this comment is to provide a response to the March 5, 2010 draft of the National Educational Technology Plan from an adult education perspective.

The adult education system, which serves students from age 16 through the lifespan, offers basic skills instruction, preparation for the GED, college-readiness training, workplace education, family literacy and parenting, civic engagement, citizenship preparation, and all levels of adult English language learning. Annually, the system serves approximately 2.3 million students in state-run and community-based programs. The need for basic skills is enormous as 93 million U.S. adults function at Basic and Below Basic proficiency levels on literacy tasks . Breaking the cycles of poverty, underemployment, and low educational attainment must include focused investments in adults, their communities, and the professionals who serve them. Technology is essential to reach and engage adults in and out of the education system and to provide learning content across the lifespan to facilitate self-study and learning.

We largely support the goals and recommendations of the Plan, and appreciate the inclusiveness indicated by using the term “learners” rather than students or children. We also acknowledge the bullet and example on p. 20 that describes the needs of the adult workforce. However, we would like to see adult education referenced throughout the Plan as a significant provider of teaching and learning in the “life-wide and lifelong” learning model as shown in Figure 2 on page 17. There are innovative projects underway in the adult education system which could be highlighted as examples in the Plan to illustrate NETP goals, such as:

Learner Web, a platform of customizable community-based resources that can support adult learners’ continued progress and personalized learning toward identified goals through blended combinations of programs and (sometimes facilitated) periods of self-study (see full description appended). (Learning 1.3, Infrastructure 4.3, Productivity 5.4)

U.S.A. Learns, an always-on English language learning platform specifically designed for the adult immigrant population that can be used to supplement classroom instruction or as self-study (see full description appended). (Learning 1.3, Infrastructure 4.3)

Electronic-Professional Learning Communities, a model toward supporting peer-to-peer professional learning that will connect teachers to colleagues, mentors and coaches, and resources that can be used to improve their practice (see full description appended). (Teaching 3.1 and 3.3)

Digital Stories, English Language Civics and other programs are incorporating project-based learning through the production and e-publication of digital stories by learners to personalize and contextualize their Civics learning, involvement in their communities, digital literacy and basic skills, and English language learning (see full description appended). (Teaching 3.4)

Blended learning models, the evidence base from adult education on the effectiveness of blended learning for adults reinforces the more robust evidence base from K-12 and adult professional literatures that show the promise of this model for effective and accelerated learning; several models of blended learning are in use around the country . (Teaching 3.4, Productivity 5.4)

There are many needs if adult education is to ramp up service to meet expanding demand. We need the leverage of the National Education Technology Plan to substantiate federal investments to jumpstart innovation, the use of open source tools and resources, public-private partnerships, professional development, and meaningful uses of technology for teaching, learning and assessing rather than the incremental digitizing of existing practices. We need a systematic survey of the infrastructure capacity in the adult education field in order to create a comprehensive capacity-building plan for the adult education programs and professional development. Experience indicates that access to the Internet is not consistent across programs or states, and is certainly far from ubiquitous in learning environments. We remain concerned about the “digital exclusion” of low income, minority, immigrant, and disabled populations for whom the fastest connections and most powerful computers are priced out of reach, a phenomenon recognized in the FCC’s Broadband Plan. We need policy innovations that will free the field from barriers such as a tradition of using learner “seat time” for accountability metrics.

We the undersigned – technology researchers, developers, and technical assistance providers working in the adult education system – hope that the authors of the Plan will recognize the value of the adult education system to achieve the President’s goals by including the system and adult learners more explicitly in the final iteration. We look forward to helping the U.S. Department of Education realize its goals for teaching and learning and for improving the educational attainment of millions of U.S. adults who strive for a better future.

Heidi Silver-Pacuilla, Senior Research Analyst, American Institutes for Research

Stephen Reder, Professor, Portland State University & Founder of Learner Web

John Fleischman, Ass’t Superintendent of Technology, Sacramento Office of Education, and Executive Director of Office of Technical Assistance Network (OTAN)

Marian Thatcher, Director, Office of Technical Assistance Network (OTAN)

David J. Rosen, Consultant

Tim Ponder, Educational Technology Consultant

Jackie Taylor, Public Policy Co-Chair, National Coalition for Literacy

Mariann Fedele, Director of CALPRO, American Institutes for Research

Cited examples

Learner Web
The Learner Web (LW: is a web and telephone application providing guided support to adults in programs or working independently to improve their basic skills, prepare for the GED, college and workforce transition, family literacy or other learning goals. The LW is a learning support system that matches Learners’ goals and progress to relevant on-line resources (including learner portals and distance learning products) and local community resources such as adult education programs, on-demand telephone help and tutors. LW users have their own online workspaces and e-portfolios for which they can give permission to their teachers, tutors, counselors or case managers to view.

The LW is a tool communities and coalitions can use to design and implement local learning support systems that include Learning Plans that identify resources and interim steps necessary to complete goals. State adult education systems, libraries, employers, volunteer and other community-based organizations can partner to support LW users in their regions. Numerous Learning Plans have been developed for goals such as GED preparation, ESOL for the workplace, college transition, family literacy, and so forth. Regions may customize these Learning Plans to connect in their local resources, programs and services and to align with state content standards or accountability requirements. LW is well suited to a range of career pathway, college and work transition programs and professional development activities for teachers and tutors.

U.S.A. Learns
U.S.A. Learns ( is a free ESL instructional program developed primarily for immigrant adults with limited English language skills who cannot attend traditional classroom programs because of difficulty with schedules, transportation, or other barriers.

The U.S.A. Learns Web site consists of 3 unique media-rich programs at two different levels of language instruction. Content offers topics, characters and situations that reflect the challenges of immigrants in U.S. society. Included are practice activities in listening, reading, writing and speaking skills as well as life skills necessary for success at work and in the community. All instructional materials are online; there are no videos, workbooks, or other materials for printing.

Learners use U.S.A. Learns in an independent mode, registered or unregistered, or it can be used under the auspices of a tutor or teacher. A separate website is available that allows teachers or tutors to track learner progress and provide feedback on selected activities.

Numerous state adult education programs have incorporated U.S.A. Learns into their existing distance learning programs. Local literacy programs, libraries, and a broad range of non-profit organizations also promote and incorporate U.S.A. Learns into the instructional offerings. Nationally, more than 14,000 teachers and tutors are using U.S.A. Learns to support ESL instruction. In the 18 months since its launch, U.S.A. Learns has provided at over 1.8 million hours of free ESL instruction.

CALPRO’s Electronic-Professional Learning Communities (e-PLCs)
Harnessing the potential of social networking technology to support professional learning is a promising new practice in the education field. Organized as electronic-Professional Learning Communities (e-PLC) and electronic-Communities of Practice (e-Cop), platforms such as those offered through Ning, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others allow professional to engage in collaborative inquiry, joint problem solving, joint-planning and collaborative critical reflection. The essence and primary goal of e-PLCs and e-CoPs is to encourage active participation and leadership among its members by providing a facilitated peer-to-peer networking and learning environment. Members of e-PLCs (used in individual direct service educational programs) and e-CoPs (used among a broader professional community to focus on specific areas of inquiry) have broad authorship ability and the capacity to start discussions, post resources, begin new forums and groups.

The California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project (CALPRO: has developed two such platforms recently. In October of 20099 CALPRO opened its California College Transition e-CoP as a resource to support adult educators from across the state, who participated in a professional development initiative offered through CALPRO to improve College Transition services for adult learners. In December 2009, CALPRO opened its Virtual Workroom for Multilevel ESL Instructors. The Virtual Workroom provides direct distance professional development utilizing a broad range of PD resources, such as a series of podcasts (short audio presentations), and related application activities, sample assessments, lesson plans, instructional materials, and options for more in-depth study.

Educators participating in the Virtual workroom are also invited to join CALPRO’s Multilevel ESL electronic-Professional Learning Community, a companion Web site to the Virtual Workroom. In the e-PLC instructors are able to network with other teachers of multilevel classes, get advice and support from subject-area experts, discuss the content based resources in the Virtual Workroom.

Digital Stories for Civic Engagement
In community technology centers, schools, and makeshift portable labs throughout the country, individuals are searching through photo albums, editing audio, and listening deeply as they learn to “digitize their stories”. Digital stories, brief personal videos bringing together voice, images, music, and video, have proven to be a powerful tool to document, reproduce, and communicate the stories of our lived experiences.

Since the birth of digital storytelling in the early nineties , disenfranchised groups have recognized the potential of this methodology as a tool to allow communities to speak for themselves. In the past decade community digital storytelling has become a strategy for labor organizing, domestic violence prevention, immigrant rights work, and, most recently, the adult education classroom.

Digital Stories in the Adult Education Classroom:

Adult educators have long understood the value of our students’ stories: stories packed with wisdom, struggle, and achievement over adversity. As a process that allows students to document and preserve these stories while gaining skills in new technologies, digital storytelling is a natural next step for the field of adult education. It provides students and teachers with the tools to tell their own story, in their own words, using their own voices. The process boosts confidence, encourages collaborative, student-centered, project-based learning and serves as a new way for students to share their experiences within their communities. The digital storytelling methodology brings together widely divergent skill areas including:
•Multimedia technology – In addition to basic computer navigation skills, participants learn the basics of scanning, downloading images, and manipulating digital photos. Each participant records his/her own voice and learns to edit audio and video together using digital video software.
•Media literacy – Through the process of creating a multimedia piece, participants move from being passive consumers of media to critical viewers and media producers.
•Written and oral literacy – A variety of creative writing techniques encourage participants to learn the craft of developing and refining a personal narrative.
•Civic engagement – The process of sharing, listening to, producing, and viewing stories can play a central role to understand issues, create a sense of efficacy, and move people to action.

Digital storytelling can facilitate the transition of adult education learners to postsecondary education or the workplace through a variety of approaches:
•Recruitment tool –Stories produced by those learners who have successfully transitioned can be used in outreach efforts.
•Motivational tool – Instructors can show stories during orientation or classes to motivate students to stay in the program and/or support goal-setting activities.
•Data collection – Digital stories can complement quantitative data collection to document program impact for funders and affiliates.

See adult learner and educator stories at:
See PCAE’s successful civics organizing video at

The Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) is the oldest non-profit organization serving developers and providers of PreK to 12 educational content in all media—print and digital—and across all subjects. The goal of AEP and the industry we serve is to advocate for and increase accessibility to professional, quality content for education.

We support the principle behind the proposed National Educational Technology Plan that all students should have sufficient access to the tools needed to receive a first-class learning experience. After reading through the draft, though, there are two areas that we feel need attention.

1. Differentiation: AEP and its members appreciate the focus on and support the creation and use of differentiated learning materials that meet the needs of a diverse population of students and teachers. Just as each school needs to select and implement the most appropriate course of action for educational achievement, teachers need diverse approaches that can address these disparities.

Differentiating instruction and instructional resources to customize the learning experience of individual students at all levels is essential to a quality 21st Century education and should not exclude resources that are currently providing meaningful results. We ask that the Department of Education emphasize that students and teachers should have access to a wide range of quality resources of all media to meet education goals.

2. Quality of educational resources: AEP also agrees that more than ever, America’s diverse classrooms need digital learning materials that provide engaging, individualized, flexible, and formative approaches to instruction. However, technology must be paired with high quality curricula that educators can use with confidence. While the plan currently explains the merits of digital resources, AEP asks that it also discuss ensuring the quality of the content.

High quality instructional materials are essential to providing all students with a globally competitive education. Educators should hold all instructional content providers accountable for accurate, up-to-date material that meets state, district, and curriculum standards and addresses the different cultural backgrounds of today’s students. Instructional resources must consider reading, language, developmental, and ability levels, and include qualitative and quantitative assessment as well as comprehensive teachers guides. Further, they must be evidence based, objective driven, and designed to engage today’s students and teachers. Digital materials that are freely available need to be held to the same quality content standards.

By connecting teachers, schools, children, and businesses, AEP aims to inspire effective and innovative learning solutions for the 21st Century classroom with the goal of a world-class education for all. We look forward to working with the education community on that mission.

So many things...Let's see, right now we are cutting benefits, money, lowering standards, encouraging charter schools and private schools. But hey, by 2020 let's have 60% of the population college graduates. Does it seems like we are being set up to fail? Pull the rug out from under somebody to see if they can learn to dance. These goals and words look pretty but actions speak louder than words. Right now the actions are saying we will give you higher classes, less support, but we expect you to pick up this slack and work miracles. Miracles are happening every day right now, but keep pulling that rug out and pretty soon somebody will fall down.

It does seem like reality in K-12 education is at odds with this plan. Technology is seen as a luxury and it is one of the first things looked at to cut in order to pass a budget. People in positions that teach instructional technology are at high risk. I know personally because my position was cut. I can applaud the attempts this plan tries to make all I want but unfortunately I will not be on the front lines implementing these measures.

In a few years many of the baby boomers will be retiring from teaching. As states take away pay raises and benefits for new teachers I fear that the quality of applicants will go down. Right now, class sizes continue to increase and money continues to go down. The stress is felt directly in the classrooms. Teachers are doing the best they can with little or no recognition for the efforts.

Also, where is the check and balance system for new principals? Why are teachers and parents not asked about what's going on?

So why does it seem that the rest of the Federal Education plan seem to hinge on one test determining the future of one teacher or one school?

If we are going to assess and teach students in multiple ways why don't we do the same for teachers and schools?

Brehm Preparatory School ( )has been laying the groundwork for the last 5 year on how to integrate assistive technology in curricula for students with complex learning disabilities . In designing new education models which are researched based to help educate students and young adults with learning disabilities. Many of the technologies and concepts we have been working to develop are discussed in this plan and we think many of their aspects are particularly important. However there is a real need to increase the communication and increases to information sharing among researchers and practitioners (the teachers), and allowing the practitioners to dictate how the sciences should follow.

I am also very keen to STEM being pushed, as an engineer I cannot express this enough. Many of the worlds problems will be solved by engineers and getting kids involved in a fun and exciting way is so important. One of the attempts Brehm has made is on their FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology ) I would like to see FIRST be incorporated in the plan because I do not think there is a better example anywhere in the world of successful STEM integration with such positive results!

I am a former student of the Megahurts and attended Brehm to help me with my learning differences. I was involved with their robotics program from its first year, and since then it has changed my life. I was barely able to read when I started attending Brehm, and now I attend Cal Poly Tech for Mechanical Engineering. The combination of Brehm and FIRST Robotics has forever changed my life. STEM is so important, and utilizing the FIRST model is an educational setting is a fun and exciting way to achieve great things.

I work with teachers every day on incorporating technology into curriculum. Only, here's the thing: it's not about technology; it's about INFORMATION. "Technology" encompasses the set of tools that allow us as never before to create, evaluate, share, and process information. Technology for it's own sake can be distracting at best, and destructive at worst. In fact, the attempt to get technology into the classroom over the last 30 years has produced a backlash among many faculty, and for good reason, as they often had technology thrust upon them with no clear idea of how to use it to further their curricular goals.

Here's the trick: find out what a teacher wants his/her students to learn, and help them find the tool that will help them better generate that learning than they could without the tool. And further yet, help make sure the learning that is taking place is not just short term information storage, but rather higher-order thinking and synthesis that produces critical intelligence and deep understanding of content and concepts.

Anyone interested in seeing how many aspects of the Plan are already thriving should visit
the website of LEARN NC, a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education, which contains a wealth of pre-screened, standards-aligned online teaching and learning resources.

I believe I would have faired better in high school, especially, if lessons had been taught with the technology I now use in my own classroom. I currently teach in the same school I graduated from in 2004 and have already noticed a significant change in the use and value of technology. I am lucky to have much of the technological teaching devices that I require and request being in a school district where money isn't the biggest issue our district faces. However, I can see the educational budget posing major problems in the availability of technology in the classroom, therefore inhibiting the learning process. Schools already lagging behind technology-wise due to budget problems will fall even further behind as larger districts with more money increase their supplies. This is unfortunate for the students.

Regarding productivity, I encourage review of the Council of Great City School's (CGCS) ongoing Performance Measurement & Benchmarking for K12 Operations project ( - "Managing for Results" link.) CGCS has been working with its 65 member districts over the past four years to develop common key performance indicators across operational areas including finance, human resources, transportation, food services, safety, technology, etc. CGCS has developed several hundred key performance indicators (KPI's) for which data is collected annually from member districts. Districts use the data to identify possible benchmarks and best practices. The project team is now reviewing the measures to identify and prioritize "essential" indicators.

This has been a grass roots effort driven by Bob Carlson at CGCS and hard working district administrators who have volunteered theirtime to develop the measures and guide the program based on six sigma principles. In addition to this KPI effort, CGCS has a long history of promoting improved district productivity through process reegineering; techniology (ERP, SIS, LMS, etc.); and best practice sharing.

Despite the record of success with "boot strap" resources and sweat equity , it has been difficult for this and related CGCS admiinstrative projects to receive support from foundations and other grant providers to support expansion - perhaps because they do not relate directly to academics where productivity has not been a priority. Now that teaching and learning productivity is thankfully being addressed as part of the NETP, I hope that education leaders will review the work of CGCS and its member districts to in order to accelerate deployment of similar work to improve academic productivity. Also, keep in mind that many of the district administrative leaders who participate inthe CGCS work are former classroom teachers.

Jim Flanagan
Needham, MA

Overall Comments

As an adult educator, I see many sections of this plan that apply to adult learners seeking basic skills, college preparation and English language learning (for immigrants). Adult learning, parent learning and family literacy should be included throughout this document. Many of the adults served by the adult education and literacy system are the parents of those in their communities’ K-16 systems. Given that throughout this document “integrated systems” are proposed, it would be helpful to K-16 and to adult education to include adult learners, and the adult education and literacy system in this document. In the detailed comments below I indicate which sections especially could benefit from including adult basic skills learners along with K-16 learners.

David J. Rosen

Specific Comments by page Number


What and How People Need to Learn

Whether the domain is English language arts, mathematics, sciences, social studies, history, art, or music, 21st century competencies and expertise such as critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication should be woven into all content areas. These competencies are necessary to become expert learners, which we all must be if we are to adapt to our rapidly changing world over the course of our lives, and that involves developing deep understanding within specific content areas and making the connections between them.

This is true for adult learners, too.

p. ix

Always-on Learning Resources
Our model of an infrastructure for learning is always on, available to students, educators, and administrators regardless of their location or the time of day. It supports not just access to information, but access to people and participation in online learning communities. It offers a platform on which developers can build and tailor applications.
An infrastructure for learning unleashes new ways of capturing and sharing knowledge based on multimedia that integrate text, still and moving images, audio, and applications that run on a variety of devices. It enables seamless integration of in- and out-of-school learning. It frees learning from a rigid information transfer model (from book or educator to students) and enables a much more motivating intertwine of learning about, learning to do, and learning to be.

The Learner Web, is a platform that is designed for seamless integration of face-to-face and online learning.

P. xii

1.0 Learning
All learners will have engaging and empowering learning experiences both in and outside of school that prepare them to be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in our globally networked society.

To meet this goal, we recommend the following actions:
1.1 Revise, create, and adopt standards and learning objectives for all content areas that reflect 21st century expertise and the power of technology to improve learning.

We need national adult education standards as well as national K-16 standards. Some standards might be the same for children and adults, but some would be different for adults.

P. 12
2.0 Assessment
Our education system at all levels will leverage the power of technology to measure what matters and use assessment data for continuous improvement.
To meet this goal, we recommend the following actions:
2.1 Design, develop, and adopt assessments that give students, educators, and other stakeholders timely and actionable feedback about student learning to improve achievement and instructional practices.
2.2 Build the capacity of educators and educational institutions to use technology

Using technology for formative assessment is import in adult learning too.

P 18.

The UDL [Universal Design for Learning] principles are as follows:
• Provide multiple and flexible methods of presentation of information and knowledge. Examples include digital books, specialized software and websites, text-to-speech applications, and screen readers.
• Provide multiple and flexible means of expression with alternatives for students to demonstrate what they have learned. Examples include online concept mapping and speech-to-text programs.
• Provide multiple and flexible means of engagement to tap in to diverse learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn. Examples include choices among different scenarios or content for learning the same competency and opportunities for increased collaboration or scaffolding.
The definition of UDL that appears in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (103 U.S.C. § 42) has come to dominate the field because of its broad applicability and its research foundation in the learning sciences, both cognitive and neurosciences….

The section above applies to adults as well as to K-16.

P. 20

• Adult workforce. Many adults in the workforce are underproductive, have no postsecondary credential, and face limited opportunities because they lack fluency in basic skills. Unfortunately, they have little time or opportunity for the sustained learning and development that becoming fluent would require. For these learners, technology expands the opportunities for where and when they can learn. Working adults can take online courses at anytime and anywhere. While individual adults benefit with more opportunities for advancement, companies and agencies benefit from the increased productivity of a fully literate workforce, one continuously preparing for the future. (See the sidebar on Online Skills Laboratory.)

This is the only section I could find in the plan specifically on adults. It needs to be expanded, and specifically to mention immigrants and English language learning, family literacy, workplace literacy and the USDOE-sponsored adult education and literacy system.

P. 45

Connecting with other professionals

More than two decades of teacher research demonstrate the importance of collaboration among teachers. When teachers make their work public and examine each others’ work, the quality of their practice and student outcomes improve (Lieberman & Pointer Mace, 2010). Social networking technology provides a platform for making teachers’ work public, with opportunities for both local and global communities of practice.

Communities of practice provide a strong mechanism for promoting ongoing growth from novice pre-service educators through expert master educators and offer opportunities for the engagement of a broad range of participants from outside formal education (Wenger, 2009). Successful learning circles also can bring together educators and students to deepen learning (Riel, 1992). PBS TeacherLine is an example of an online system that engages teachers in collaboration and builds professional community.

The section above also applies to adult education teachers.

Page 53

Access for Every Student and Educator should also apply to adult learners and their teachers

Page 54

Adult learners have cell phones. This section should include adult learners too.

Page 55

Where public schools and libraries have adult education programs the adult learners should be included in/benefit from the e-rate. If the e-rate continues, I think it should cover all publicly funded adult ed programs.

Page 56

Adults should be included in these recommendations: 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3

Pages 65-66

Using data in decision-making applies to adult education too, and it should be included in decision making about ending data silos.

Pages 67 and 73

The time-based measurement problem (seat time) applies to adult education, too, especially to blended and distance learning. We should (re)consider competency-based approaches.

Page 70

Reducing barriers to post-secondary education section applies to adult ed especially through blended learning.

Since this is the "National Educational Technology Plan" it might be nice to to make an effort to diversify access more for Mac users... like adding a simple audio format that can be run on a Mac or downloaded through iTunes and put on an iPod or iPad. Maybe set something up in iTunes University with this as the foundation and moving forward build additional audio & video resources around it that help build thinking and understanding for educators.

This is all very nice... Great for districts that have the financial resources to be able to afford it. The E-Rate program has a very limited scope and focus and has greatly helped many of the less affluent districts get the infrastructure they need -- infrastructure and equipment that sits unused because the districts cannot afford the software or content that the students need. It's like having a book with no writing on the pages and having to pay for each chapter.

Ubiquity of digital resources and equity of access will never be achieved until the costs become affordable. When industry finally recognizes that money cannot and should not be made off the backs of students and their families (especially in poverty-ridden urban and highly rural areas) and starts to provide that content, software and access for free, then education will really be transformed and student-learning will accelerate. Until then all learning will be subject to economic fluctuation and choking financial restrictions.

I am interesting in reading Mr Obama's quotation at the congress. I am sure this spirit is also remain on others presidents on others country in the world.

Where the Race to the Top and Core Common Standards fail, this plan succeeds. Seriously, as a National Writing Project fellow and tech forward teacher who values inquiry learning, I could not ask for a better comprehensive plan. Please stay true to this plan. Do not cave to people still living in the 20th century who see knowledge transmission as a one dimensional process (teacher to learner).

I have only two points to make:
1. it would appear that the Department of Education is once again leaderless and clueless;
2. the tech plan has so many flaws it is difficult to know where to begin.

Recommendation - Consult with folks who use the technology, ask both teacher and student who know and use the technology. Try visiting classrooms - NOT ONLY in Maryland and in the DC area - you might, just might, discover what is happening across the nation. It is obvious that the comments made here will go unnoticed and the Department of Education will continue to wander blindly about reviewing a litany of programs wasting valuable tax payer dollars. The really silly "Race to the Top" is a perfect example of what is NOT HAPPENING!

Recommendation 2 - Get rid of the over-hyped, extremely expensive, and non-productive No Child Left Behind; it is a total embarrassment to everyone!

I am pleased to see that the draft National Educational Technology Plan recognizes Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as an important educational framework for ensuring that ALL students receive high quality instruction and accurate assessments

Hi, I also glad with this. I am also pleased to see that the draft National Educational Technology Plan recognizes Universal Design for Learning (UDL) . Students will receive hight quality services.

3 Points:

Point1: When I read that this comment section would be open for only 60 days, I thought your anonymous staff of IT professionals have no idea what you're doing ... and using taxpayer dollars to do it. There is no way you can crowdsource (which is exactly what you're doing when you solicit credible feedback you can use from the Internet) without competently marketing your ideas to the idea sector of America: entrepreneurs. In Silicon Valley alone there are numerous innovations that make your plan obsolete before you launch. Do you folks subscribe to the various inside info publications and blogs in the world of entrepreneurs?

Point2: There are three exploding industries due to youth interests: social media, 3D and video game technology. Does your plan adequately take advantage of these platforms to advance youth interests in education?

Point3: Did the Dept of Education take the time to put together competitions and conferences, using a fraction of the monies spent n R&D, to attract the brightest and best developments occurring in the innovation industry?

One other thing: when I saved this comment, it kicked it back to me because I had not used the "http://" prefix to my Web site. That's NOT a good sign of forward-thinking. I strongly recommend the formation of a roundtable group that establishes a marketing campaign to recruit innovative ideas. Offering monetary rewards and additional incentives usually does the trick. I think you folks have tried re-packaging the some rapidly aging aspects of Internet innovation that will be obsolete to your plan by the time you get your plan implemented.

This is a series of reactions to a quick read through the proposed document.

-No Child Left behind is a flawed plan - many know that. It is simply an extension of Industrial Revolution teaching methodology that permeates our educational system - from K-12 to Higher Education. The emphasis on metrics tied to performance is seductive. We can feel that we have accomplished something. No amount of hand-wringing and complaining is going to change this - at least not overnight. We have to be realistic and understand that many educational policies (down to city school boards) are made by those that have no real knowledge of education - they have opinions that may or may not be grounded in fact. It is more about demonstration of "progress". The bad news for those opposing these standardized testing initiatives is that in some limited ways they do work. Comprehension of core subject matter does open opportunities. The data is out there.

-The assertion that one commenter made that Teachers can't make students creative is not entirely correct. It speaks to an abdication of responsibility in teaching. Secretly some believe that no matter how wretched a school system we foist on students, the ones that are motivated and bright will rise to the top. That simply is not true. Education is about access and opportunity. If those things are denied then even those students that have potential may be consistently stymied by their environment. I am fortunate as a graduate student to be in a Design program - where the core curriculum is primarily focused on a strong work ethic, but also the fostering of creativity and potential - these things are expected and necessary. I think it is no accident that I am constantly encountering fellow students in this program that are overflowing with ideas and connections. It is about them - but it is also about the environment that fosters this mentality.

-I have worked in the educational technology field for a long time now. I have seen consistent misuse of technology in teaching. We want to believe - just like we believe in Medicine - that technology can remedy things that are otherwise hard to do, but necessary. A good education is profoundly expensive in terms of money - but more importantly - in time and commitment. The temptation with technology is that use of technology is itself seen as progress. We like stuff (physical, tactile). Giving children laptops seems like progress. "Mobile powered learning" seems like progress. What this teaches students is that technology is going to be the facilitator of knowledge and experience. My most profound educational experiences sometimes have computers somewhere in the background - but I could easily accomplish much of this work without digital technology at all. I think we need to actually disengage from technology to take the time and create space to reflect. There is no such thing as wasted time if you are engaged. I have adopted a broader palette of technology that includes computers as just one aspect - writing is technology - drawing is technology. These become extensions of ourselves through practice and implementation. Skill transference is very real if we allow students to be open to it. "Silos" were a fashionable concept in business 10 - 15 years ago - but we now know that this idea can have devastating consequences - it actually narrows field of view, compartmentalizes knowledge, shuts down communication. I believe that STEM is at it's heart an arbitrary and flawed concept. Life simply doesn't work that way.

-"What education can learn from the experience of business is that we need to make the fundamental structural changes that technology enables if we are to see dramatic improvements in productivity." This ties to point one. Education is and is not a business. Business practices that are successful are not always focused on long-term strategies. This may seem counter-intuitive to some - but the world changes quickly - and businesses have to be agile to adapt - and be responsible to the stake holders. People want to see profits now. "No Child Left Behind" - again - is tied to the mentality that metrics can guide success. Is this what we want from education? What are we actually measuring? The financial crisis is in some ways directly tied to this fundamental question. We now know that all the data was out there to show that we were going to have a financial crisis. We simply were not asking the right questions at the time. I see the same mistake happening in education today.

-Makers versus consumers. We desperately need less emphasis on utilization of digital learning experiences that encourage passive learning, and more that require students to make. There has to be multiple venues for this to happen. This belief has little to do with the concept of preferential learning styles. Education is exposure - it is experience. I do not know that I can be a filmmaker until someone requires me to make a movie. This is the opening of potential. It is about encouraging the concept that there is often more than one way to come to a conclusion. In design we say it is about process as much as it is about outcome. Quit trying to make education "engaging" through "gaming experiences". Educators have proven consistently that most don't know how to make good games. They typically suck. Guess who does understand gaming - STUDENTS! We just have to unlock that. Gaming is often about experience as much as it is about outcome. Gamers understand this. Make students make games and assess outcomes.

-Quit using the word "engaging". It is rapidly becoming a meaningless word. It is possible to have experiences that lack educational value that are "engaging". It has been squeezed dry of meaning. It has gone from being a term of potential to just another buzzword, like "social computing", "active learning", "millennium learners" etc. I go to conferences and can pick out those who "get it" versus those that are just following trends by the terminology they use - more buzzwords - less actual substance. I know this is a hard point that sounds unfair - but those that are actually reading this - doesn't it feel now that many of these terms have been beaten to death? Buzzwords and cliches can get in the way of real understanding - they become a kind of shorthand that becomes abstracted and removed from deeper concepts. There are multiple ways of "knowing". Buzzwords are a hallmark of superficial "knowing".

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to provide feedback on using technology in education.
I'd like to add that teacher librarians make an important contribution when it comes to teaching information literacy to our children. They are the experts in giving students the skills to search for information using computer technology to access online databases and the internet and in helping students understand the validity and source of the information they find, all with the goal of students becoming independent researchers who will succeed in school and go on to be college and career-ready.
Using technology to provide information to students results in information being more current and being more available to large numbers of students (with the number of computers being the limiter), rather than just to the one or two who got to the book first.
There is an article in that nicely explains why students need teacher librarians to teach information literacy: "Young Learners Need Librarians, Not Just Google" by Mark Moran, dated March 22, 2010.

I am very passionate about helping to shape a new vision for learning. And technology is definitely part of that vision. With a background in Computers and Information Systems, I often see how technology could be used to streamline processes and save money.

Still, using technology and integrating it into instructional practices will not prepare students for the 21st Century without other major changes to the system of education.

Students need to develop a passion for creativity and innovation. They must become critical thinkers and have the ability to problem solve. To be successful in the 21st Century, students need to have the ability to communicate and collaborate. This includes having empathy, embracing diversity and having emotional intelligence.

Such skills come from within. No teacher can make a student be creative. No administrator can make a teacher communicate more effectively. No politician can mandate that students become critical thinkers. Instead, leaders need to focus on developing a different learning environment. As the partnership for 21st Century Skills explain, leaders must create an environment with “support systems that organize the condition in which humans learn best – systems that accommodate the unique learning needs of every learner and support the positive human relationships needed for effective learning.”

The focus of the Federal and State governments on high-stakes testing is in direct contradiction to creating an environment where humans learn best. Furthermore, it perpetuates the idea that all students should be the same. Students are not the same. People are not the same.

I agree that data-driven instruction is essential for educators to improve practices. Therefore, students should be taught how to set measurable goals and understand how to evaluate their progress. If we are to prepare students for the 21st Century, we must as a society get away from the idea that teachers impart knowledge upon students. Teachers guide learning. Students have a responsibility too.

Stop attaching funding to only standardized test scores. Then, perhaps schools could begin moving towards creating an environment where 21st Century Skills can develop.

Education has transform into many ways we see for learning and teaching come to play it's part.I myself am a true believer in which technology is improving better use for my learning ability. Espaecially when it comes to traveling distance about a 40 minute drive. Thank god for internet classes to do my homework at home where it's very comfort and relaxing to a noisy environment I'm use to do at the same time I do my homework, in other words Internet has let me do positive learning skills along with my learning techniques. It's true we as student must come to an understanding where students of all ages can still have the motivation we need and have hope for the future that awaits for us. As far as eduation transformation is getting good but still needs to get better even with discrimination towards teachers and students alike. We come from the same root and we must understand our people and help our neighbor and proceed further in life for our children education, this I agree. Theres no need to leave a child behind in education just because of differences.

I feel that we need to address student accountability. Make sure that students are in school and not off on vacation with the family, not home for the day just "because" they didn't feel like coming to school today. We need our students in school if "we" teachers are held accountable for their learning. Parents also need to be involved, not just have the attitude that it's the teachers "job". It takes a village to raise a child and we are ALL accountable! The mind set needs to go back to the day when education was IMPORTANT not the mind set of this is a place to socialize and babysit. The respect for one-another has to take place again.

I see five main things wrong with this plan:
1) I have read about how computers are going to change education since the 1970's. I'm still waiting for that to happen.
2) The committee that came up with the plan is made up almost entirely of university professors and it should be made up of K-12 teachers from various sizes of schools and parts of the country.
3) The plan assumes that all students want to learn and that it is the teacher's fault when they don't. Many students do not want to learn or cooperate in any way, shape or form.
4) Where is the money coming from? Many more dollars are needed to enact this plan, even if we are careful how we spend it.
5) One teacher in a 44 minute period cannot work with 25 students all at different levels or lessons. I don't want my students working at home unless they have fallen behind.

Anyone else find it ironic that a 100+ page paper on the use of technology in education fails to post the paper in a reader friendly 1 page per slide pdf. Instead they have this left page right page set up so scrolling over/down is a major pain. Ahh government :P

The QIAT (Quality Indicators For Assistive Technology) community of educators, Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapists, Assistive Technology Specialists, parents and policy makers are looking at this plan with an eye for those students who will benefit from full access to the curriculum. UDL is the building block of this accessibility and, to reassure those who feel that gifted learners are left out of this plan, will serve all learners extremely well and allow gifted learners to soar.
Broadening the expectation that accessibility to the curriculum is a given is critically important. The generations in school today and in years to come live in the digital age. We must give our students access to the tools that allow them to master the digital world for education, for practical skills, for the knowledge base that exists on the web and for producing their work. The plan needs to contain a mechanism for schools to afford universal digital connection for all students. Can we broker low cost machines and inexpensive high broadband service from providers for schools and students? Can the physical access tools be available to any student who needs it?
Today, only those children who have a strong team have this access and often the meld between their access and the classroom curriculum is not a good one. UDL will go a long way to resolve this issue, but students with unique access needs will remain outside the circle of learning unless we can solve the issue of universal accessibility.
The variety of access methods to this plan is remarkable! That's what we are talking about; that and physical access and UDL. What a remarkable opportunity we have.

UDL has been shown to support the learning of up to 1/3 of the students in a classroom - this is outside the needs of students with developmental disabilities. UDL is another step towards ensuring that ALL students, with all their individual learning strengths and challenges, receive high quality instruction and accurate assessments.

What's stunning is the lack of attention to gifted education. Gifted children are the future leaders, scientists, doctors, of our society. Yet all educational reform is geared towards improving the bottom end of the student population. I hate to sound Darwinian, but how does society benefit when a child with a 80 IQ gets hundreds of thousands of dollars of supplementary support - only to spend his life working at McDonalds?

I hope this person does not work in my child's school, or any child's school for that matter. If we use UDL, the premise is that instruction is designed to meet the needs of all, not just those at the bottom. AND, children with low IQ's deserve every opportunity offered to other students, just designed specifically for them. The problem with schools today is that we do a good job with talented students and we tend to forget about the others until they affect our overall test scores and then suddenly we are interested in them. I am not a fan of using tests to drive instruction, but I am thankful that tests are bringing attention to the needs of students who used to just be passed through the system.

The initiatives and ideas proposed in this draft are valid, timely, and logical for the world we live in.
However, although the word 'technology' figures strongly in the title and essence of the draft, I fear that broadband/wireless and 1-1 programs are an impossibly high mark to attain in the near term. Has anyone from the federal government looked at the flawed and inefficient way that our K-12 schools spend money on technology? We're locked into the same nonsensical FY cycle as everyone else. Technology, at the K-12 level, is still viewed as a luxury, not a utility, and as such is subject to discretionary spending cuts like any other thing. As long as our public schools do not see technology expenses as the 'cost of doing business', then we'll continue to be a day late and a dollar short.
Broadband/wireless available to all inside/outside school? Our ILECs and cablecos have no vested interest in supplying connectivity to "underpopulated" regions of our country - specifically because there aren't enough paying customers.
Until a town's franchise agreement with a cable or other telecom provider is NOT the binding document that outlines the choices a provider can make, there will be precious little ground covered in making this worthy draft a reality.