Policymakers at the district, state, and national levels have multiple levers to provide leadership and guide practice towards the use of technology for student-centred learning. These include:
1. Policies Related to the Use of Educational Technology for Learning
While the recent draft of the National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) from the U.S. Department of Education (2010) strongly emphasizes the integration of 21st-century skills and technology-driven personalized learning, other national standards and policy documents have also been released. Notable among these are the common core standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts, as well as the blueprint for incorporating technology into specific academic content standards. The establishment of these standards inevitably calls for the assessment of students’ technological proficiency and knowledge.
This demand for assessment aligns with the imperative to create new evaluation methods that correspond closely with these standards. Conventional high school assessments, which traditionally assess rote memorization, often diverge from the skills required for success in higher education and professional environments—such as effective writing and critical problem-solving.
As we look ahead, there is a pressing need for assessment tools that measure intricate 21st-century competencies and incorporate technology usage. The Assessment and Teaching of the 21st Century Skills Initiative, backed by Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft at the University of Melbourne, has initiated preliminary efforts in this direction. Additionally, states hold a pivotal role in fostering the growth of online learning.
By establishing and financing virtual schools that offer courses aligned with their standards, states
“It is important to emphasize that research generally does not tell educators exactly how they should use technology, but it can inform their decision making about its use in particular circumstances.”
2. Policies Related to the Training of Educators
Guidelines for educators and school leaders, along with prerequisites for obtaining initial teaching and administrative licenses, as well as renewing them, should encompass the showcasing of proficiencies linked to leveraging technology for tailoring learning encounters.
3. Monitor Access Using Data
To ensure equal availability of technology, districts and states must oversee the availability, utilization, and technological proficiency. The collection of data should extend beyond the enumeration of devices and encompass the analysis of technology utilization, its users, and educators’ aptitude in utilizing technology for individualized learning.
4. Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems
One of the top priorities for funding from the U.S. Department of Education is to help states create strong technology-driven systems that track student progress over time. These systems are meant to help schools and districts keep track of lots of information about students and teachers. Once these systems are set up, they can help policymakers and educators use data to make better decisions and learn more about education. Teachers could find it useful to have long-term data about each student, but they’ll need training and support to use this data effectively.
5. Funding Priorities
States should consider giving money to school districts that want to use technology to help students learn in a way that suits them best. There are different ways to get money for technology in schools, like through a program called Enhancing Education Through Technology, money from a special fund for collecting data on students across the state, Title 1 funds, and money from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
As education evolves, well-crafted policies act as beacons, guiding the fusion of tradition and innovation toward a future where technology nurtures personalized, resilient, and transformative learning experiences for all students.