More schools to be 'Future Ready' with new National EdTech Plan

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Soon more states and school districts will be ready for the future.

The Department of Education and the Alliance for Excellent Education announced Thursday they would host five more Future Ready summits next year, a national effort to inform more teachers, parents and students about personalized learning through professional development, online chats and other innovative resources.

The announcement coincided with the unveiling of a new National Education Technology Plan, which gets updated by the Office of Educational Technology every five years.

The summits, which first kicked off late last year, will be held in Austin, Boston, Seattle, southern Florida and Madison, Wisconsin in 2016, according to officials. Seventeen states are currently part of the effort, including California, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah and West Virginia.

Outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan said more students’ learning can be customized and personalized through the use of digital tools.

“Technology has the potential to bring remarkable new possibilities to teaching and learning by providing teachers with opportunities to share best practices, and offer parents platforms for engaging more deeply and immediately in their children’s learning,” Duncan said in his remarks.

“It can change the experiences of students in the most challenging circumstances by helping educators to personalize the learning experience based on students’ needs and interests – meeting our students where they are and challenging them to reach even higher,” he said.

[Read more: School districts to use openly licensed online content over textbooks]

Added Bob Wise, president of the Alliance, “Future Ready Schools isn’t just about technology. It’s about a more personalized approach to teaching and learning that ensures that all students have the skills they need to succeed in college and a career.”

The updated National Education Technology Plan aims to address digital inequity in schools.

“While acknowledging the continuing need to provide greater equity of access to technology itself, the plan goes further to call upon all involved in American education to ensure equity of access to transformational learning experiences enabled by technology,” according to the agency’s website.

Specifically, the plan calls for redesigning teacher preparation programs to incorporate different technologies, softwares and digital platforms instead of use a single technology program or course. It also requests that teachers set goals for how students can access the Internet as well as online and mobile platforms in and out of the classroom, and adopt high-quality openly licensed educational resources in place of textbooks.

Assessments should be more agile and technology-based to allow for more accurate feedback, in real time as students are learning, and wireless infrastructure should be in place and updated to meet the Federal Communications Commission’s minimum connectivity goals, according to the plan.

“Today we set a new vision for technology to support learning and have assembled an unprecedented coalition of partners dedicated to making sure that vision becomes practice to transform the learning of all students,” said Richard Culatta, the outgoing director of the Office of Educational Technology.

Reach the reporter at corinne.lestch@edscoop.com or follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.

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