The U.S. Department of Education initiated the development of Transforming American Education in spring 2009 to capitalize on the opportunities created by technological advancements and new research on learning that have emerged since the publication of the last national educational technology plan in 2004. The Department’s goal was to create a vision for the strategic application of technology throughout the education system in support of student learning and achievement and consistent with the Administration’s broader educational and economic priorities.
In accordance with the White House’s Open Government Directive, public participation, transparency, and collaboration were key considerations in developing this plan. Web 2.0 technology greatly accelerated the plan development process and enabled tens of thousands of individuals to learn about and contribute to it through webinars, online forums, and an interactive public website through which all interested parties could contribute resources, statements, and comments.
Plan development began with interviews with a dozen leaders across the Department of Education and at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy to build a deep understanding of policymakers’ priorities, goals, and insights into how to make the next national educational technology plan most effective.
Outreach began with an extensive series of events built around the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in June 2009. The National Educational Technology Plan development team led by SRI International conducted five focus groups with teachers, school administrators, and members of the Consortium on School Networking (CoSN) and the Software Information Industry Association (SIIA). Fifty chief technology officers and chief information officers from school districts across the country participated in a forum on the new plan.
In addition, more than 300 leading educators and educational technology experts participated in the ISTE Leadership Symposium. Leadership Symposium participants drafted vision statements and action steps that became the basis for the initial web-based outreach event that generated 263 public comments over a two-week period from June 29 to July 12, 2009, on the National Educational Technology Plan website (edtechfuture.org).
The input gathered was presented to a Technical Working Group of educators, researchers, and state and local policymakers who contributed an extraordinary range of expertise to the vision, research, and writing of Transforming American Education. The Technical Working Group convened in person at three 2-day meetings to craft the plan’s vision and recommendations. In addition, Technical Working Group members participated in discussions with guest experts during five 2-hour webinars to incorporate additional expertise in critical issue areas for inclusion in the plan.
A second version of the National Educational Technology Plan website was launched on August 29, 2009, to give the public a sense of the themes being considered by the Technical Working Group and to allow a wide range of stakeholders to contribute their own resources for consideration. During the three-month input period, 22,876 individuals visited the site and contributed 572 reports, technology tool examples, case studies, and personal or group statements on the plan. The site’s 2,582 registered users included classroom teachers (235), students (48), school administrators (48), other school staff (117), district administrators (13), professors and other higher education staff (123), educational technology organization and nonprofit professionals (118), researchers (52), educational consultants (116), technology tool and service providers (153), and state and national policymakers (2).
Hundreds of other stakeholders provided valuable input to the national educational technology plan team throughout the summer and fall. The plan development team held webinar discussions with the members of educational technology organizations SETDA, CoSN, and NCTET, as well as with education philanthropy leaders. The plan development team presented at several education forums and conferences including iNACOL’s Virtual School Symposium, NCTET’s Policy Forum, the National Center for Technology Innovation Conference, and the Summit on Redefining Teacher Education for Digital Age Learners. In addition, two Technical Working Group members led a face-to-face open forum at the University of Michigan and a virtual public forum in Second Life.
Finally, to gather perspectives and insights from industry into ways to promote unprecedented innovation in education research and development, Jim Shelton and the plan development team convened top thinkers from 24 leading technology and educational content providers in a day-long summit in Menlo Park, California, on September 21, 2009.
The Department extends its thanks to the thousands of individuals who shared their expertise in developing this vision for transforming the future of American education with technology.