U.S. Secretary of Education Requests Feedback on Technology in Education

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, is seeking input and feedback on the role of technology in education. According to the USDE’s Office of Educational Technology‘s site…

Secretary Spellings would like to hear your ideas on the integration of technology in education. Please take a moment to provide feedback on the following questions:

  1. In what ways has technology improved the effectiveness of your classroom, school or district?
  2. Based on your role (administrator, parent, teacher, student, entrepreneur, business leader), how have you used educational data to make better decisions or be more successful?
  3. In what ways can technology help us prepare our children for global competition and reach our goals of eliminating achievement gaps and having all students read and do math on grade level by 2014?
  4. What should be the federal government’s role in supporting the use of technology in our educational system?

I’m not sure that these are the questions that we need to be asking, but at least there’s the possibility of some dialogue emerging from this. I do think we are at an important juncture with regards to education and technology (and I’ll be blogging about this in the very near future) and I encourage you to please provide your feedback via the online survey.

Here are a few interesting conversation about this topic.

Steve Hargadon

Classroom 2.0

Around the Corner

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

17 thoughts on “U.S. Secretary of Education Requests Feedback on Technology in Education”

  1. Hi, probably this entry may be off topic but anyhow, I’ve gone browsing about your site and it looks seriously elegant. It’s obvious you know the topic and you are passionate about it. I’m creating a new web site plus I am attempting to make it look great, plus present top quality website content. I’ve acquired a good deal visiting this website and I look forward to a great deal more posts and will be coming back soon. Thanks.

  2. Children today are obsessed with video games. We need only pay attention to the sales of Nintendo DS, Gameboy Advance, XBox and Wii to learn how popular video games have become in our society. Many of them will choose to spend hours playing video games instead of picking up a book or engaging in any other literary activity. Dr. Edward Moses suggests in his work on the Algebra Project that showing minority students from an underprivileged neighborhood how to use Texas Instruments calculators, such as the TI 83/85 to perform mathematical tasks i.e. graph functions, will turn the attention of these students away from the video game scenario onto mathematics. If we could find educational games that could shift the attention towards learning and away from mindless video games we would be well on our way to providing our children with worthwhile solutions on bridging the achievement gaps. Also, they would be more motivated to accomplish the greater societial goals like success in math. If we can get the Federal government interested in providing mathematical technology for our schools, we may get many more students interested in solving mathematical problems and desiring to participate in mathematical activities.

  3. I am currently a student in an Ed. Tech. course, and only recently have I begun to understand technology’s impact on the classroom. The fact that the U.S. Secretary of Education has also come to recognize Ed. Tech as an essential part of teaching is also a good sign for the continual implementation of technology into schools. When discussing this issue, it is important to note that many schools simply don’t have the resources or funding to provide the latest technologies to their classrooms. I think it is the federal government’s job to correct this problem. Of course, this touches on a much more central issue that has plagued this country’s public school system for decades—economic inequality. Schools in poor areas don’t get the required funding they need because this money is determined by local property value. The federal government needs to develop a much more equitable way of allocating these resources to public schools, so that all students can benefit from technology.

  4. Lee,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know they come from many years of experience, study, and research in this area. Your response touches on many of the same ideas that I’ve seen others saying on this topic here on this blog as well as others. There seems to be a great deal of consensus about where we are and where we need to go with regards to technology’s role in education. The more I see good examples of effective technology integration, like those sprinkled throughout this blog (see archive, too) the more convinced I am that we may be missing the boat. Technology can just be another instructional tool that we use (like math manipulatives, flash cards, maps, etc.), but it can also be as a vehicle to more interactive, authentic/situated, project-based, constructivist, learner-centered, discovery-based learning environments. The market place has obviously morphed since the emergence of technology. Many things about our everyday lives have evolved now that technology is ubiquitous. I’m not sure that education has transitioned at the same rate. A quick observation of classrooms would reveal that the weaving of technology into the curriculum has been a very slow process. I agree that it is happening, but I don’t think we’ve made the great strides in adopting technology as you’ll see in the working world or in everyday life.

    Again, thanks. Please come around often, Lee.

  5. Thanks for getting this topic out there, Clif. I submitted my comments, and I hope that many, MANY others will as well. The way I have come to view ed. tech in the nearly fifteen years that I have been directly involved, is that current technologies have not truly transformed education in the common classroom, but have instead created a sort of parallel universe with 7-12 online educational opportunities increasing in even the most rural districts in the country. For me, what is most disappointing is that, despite the ubiquity of technologies in everyday life, in workplaces, and businesses worldwide, colleges of education still crank out teachers the same way they did 50 years ago, and school districts rarely include technology as a de facto component of the Curriculum and Instruction departments. Despite considerable research demonstrating that, at the very least, effectively integrating technologies into the disciplines increases student participation and interest in learning. Instead, it is typically relegated to a lesser subdivision (instructional technology) where it is treated like an ugly stepchild with no real connection to the “real”, tried-and-true stuff, like readin’, ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmatic. I’m afraid that until a form of national curriculum is established that mandates the integration of technology in the curriculum (and not in the form of over-priced, specifically targeted software packages), the parallel universes will continue to exist, much to the detriment of most students and education as an institution.

  6. Personally, I think that learning about new and upcoming trends/fads in technology would be interesting and helpful. It is great to learn about current technology and ways that it can be implemented in the classroom, however, it would also be beneficial to understand what is new and what types of technology will be forthcoming. In addition, it would be helpful to know where we can review or find out about new technology on our own. It seems like the teachers I know tend to begin their teaching experience with understanding of technology. However, as time passes, they become “rusty” on learning and finding out about new technology.
    Just my thought…..

  7. Several of you have mentioned the idea of reforming educational technology courses. I’d be really curious to hear your ideas about this. You’re the students in these college classes and the teachers/soon-to-be teachers that are actually in the K-12 classrooms. Dr. Charsky and I have actually been actually been wondering What Will/Should Ed Tech 101 Evolve Into? for a long time. Let’s discuss your ideas about improving educational technology courses here on this posting.

  8. Hey there Clif,

    Wow! I’m at a loss for words only because everyone else has made many of the points I would have liked to make. Jeez guys! Anyways I’ll just reiterate… I agree with Shari that often times I feel a little behind when it comes to Tech Class. Granted I have had probably more exposure to computer technology just because of my generation. However this only makes me think more about the importance of intergrating it into the curriculum AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!! I agree with you Rachel that technology is growing and changing faster than we are than we are and sorry Larry Cuban but their ain’t no stoppin’ it! It would be beneficial to our future students to expose them to as much computer integration as possible because it’s inevitable that they will need it for their future careers. I’ll admit that I was a skeptic when I started taking Charsky’s class, but now, in complete honesty, I’m blown away by all the wonderful things you can do with the computer that can be used in every lesson, and I’m using it all by myself, kind of!!!! And Chris I agree with you that the internet is a source like no other to keep children searching for needed resources, looking for new ideas, and discovering all sorts of things. I don’t know if it can soley make students close the achievement gap in the enxt seven years because I think as you said Clif that teachers need to be wonderful regardless of their resources– its not all about the computer. Computers can’t heal the world without proper guidance from the imformed teacher. But through the vast network of resources and learning opportunities the computer and internet provides, they certainly could help many struggling students achieve higher goals. Some computer activities tap into multiple teaching styles that may require children to use an intelligence other than verbal and linguistic. It provides children with other ways to learn the material. How could the government not throw money at this idea!!!!???? I’m nota teacher yet, but I will someday be using technology, not just the computer, in my classroom as much as possible and where applicable. Anyways, I’m done rambling. 🙂

  9. From the role as a student and future educator I believe technology is one of the most important tools teachers can posses in their classrooms. I am not a “Larry Cuban groupie” like Shari, but I respect the man. I strongly disagree with him when he says that computers will crash and burn like the failing technologies of our past, however, I acknowledge the fact that our teachers are not equipped with the proper skills they should be. I agree with Chris in saying that our Ed Tech course is a step in the right direction, but it is nowhere near where we should be. Ed Tech should be more than a 3-credit course you take in the beginning of your graduate career; it should be an ongoing learning process. Technology is ever changing, by the time next year roles around there will be new and improved hardware/software we can integrate in our classrooms. Personally, I have utilized technology throughout my educational background, but not necessarily through the help of my teachers. I had a desire to learn about technology and did it on my own. In a day where the students become the teachers (when knowing about technology) it is important that we (as educators) have the proper knowledge and skills that our students demand. I believe the federal government should support the use of technology in our educational system in spending for classrooms, as well as professional development for educators.

  10. I agree with Jeni regarding the use of technology within the classroom. I believe that a teacher can have the most relevant technology, but without training and constant commitment toward learning additional information, the technology will not be used to the fullest extent. Since technology is becoming increasingly important to society, it is the benefit of the school district and the federal government to provide these tools neccessary for students. Since the budget plays a large role in determining the amount of technology (software, hardware) that can be purchased, not all school districts are equal. Therefore, the success and quality of education a student receives that includes technology is primarily based upon budget.

    The government needs to recognize that not all schools have the same advantages and therefore students do not have the same advantages. If we are to ensure that students receive an education that includes techonology, the federal government needs to provide additional funding for that particular technology and for adequate training of that technology.

  11. Actually I would like to focus on the ways that computers can help prepare our children. The computer and internet have created a global economy. Look at the increase in telecommuting, and companies that have offices worldwide. With the ability to do business at the stroke of a key with a company half way around the world, we need to look at technology as an integral piece of the educational system. I think the most valuable thing that we can do to lessen the achievement gap in reading and mathematics by 2014 is revamping the educational system. Small class size (10 – 12 students/class until high school), qualified teachers, longer school year, equity in access – all of which come with a price tag—(But that is a topic for another blog) All forms of technology need to be integrated into the classroom, but we as future teachers also need to teach child how to think. We can give them the skills to use the various forms of technology but if they do not possess the skills to question, hypothesize, test, analyze, and question some more, then even the most technologically integrated classroom will not be able to meet this goal. I am finding the educational technology course that I am taking, to be a step in the right direction. If future teachers are given the training before they step into the classroom then technology will more likely be integrated with the curriculum. Technology gives us, as future teachers, the advantage of providing a way to enrich the content we are teaching. It isn’t technology use itself that is going to close the gaps; it is whether or not we make the necessary changes in the educational system, which in the next 7 years, will make the difference.

  12. Hi there, Shari. Welcome to the blog.
    Larry Cuban is provocative. I encourage you to make a habit of reading his work. I don’t always agree with him, but he definitely makes me think. It’s going to take people with really loud voices like Cuban to help bring about the educational reform that I think we need. My comments below will begin to give you some idea of the kind of educational reform I’d like to see.
    I agree with you that arguing about whether or not to have computers in the classroom is no longer the issue. I think folks arguing against/ reluctant to/ resistant to technology’s integration are behind the curve…and falling infinitely more behind the curve everyday, as are their students unfortunately. Learners are using more than computers in their everyday lives. They are now using cell phones, iPods, digital photos and videos, PDAs, and more without even thinking about it. They use these technologies the same way that my generation used the TV and phone. These technologies are a part of how they function in life…today’s learners have INTEGRATED these technologies into their lives. I completely understand that there are a couple of generations of teachers in the classroom that haven’t (and may never) integrated these tools into their lives. That influences their comfort level in using technology in their teaching. I don’t think that let’s them off the hook completely, but it also doesn’t justify them being uncomfortable with letting their students use the tools with learning. A review of the “stuff” kids are creating of their own volition and sharing via blogs, YouTube, Google Video, open source software sites, podcast and vidcast sites, etc., etc., etc., demonstrates that kids can express themselves in creative and articulate ways with their tech savvy. I wonder if there will be a time when the medium of choice in the classroom won’t always have to be paper and pencil…or the written narrative. Students can often present their ideas and demonstrate their understanding via concept maps, illustration(s)/ image(s)/ photo(s), through the development of their own games/ simulations, role play, oral presentation/ podcast/ video presentation, website, and more. Many of these examples can occur with and without the use of technology. Yet, I suggest that inside the realm of school students are most always relegated to demonstrating their understanding and expressing their ideas via paper and pencil activities (workbooks, short stories, essays, multiple choice paper-based tests, worksheets, math problems, etc.) and never provided the opportunity to, or even the option of, expressing themselves in ways in which may be more customary to them. I could provide examples, but I don’t want to ramble on. I think the discussions around Web 2.0 technologies and the emerging notion of Learning 2.0 are interesting and you’ll be seeing many blogs around those ideas in the future.
    Other responses to your comments…
    I think everything loses its flash eventually, thus no longer creating motivation in folks. This will someday likely be true of computers, too. I’m glad you realize this and aren’t building your teaching style on that singular notion.
    BTW, I just got my first cell phone last summer…at age 35, too.

  13. My perspective at this point is that we have a responsiblity to equip students with any and all tools that will help them be competetive in the future — computers/technology education is one of those tools. Should the teacher be integrating it into curriculum, or should this actually be a a specific subject matter that has class time equal to math, reading, arithmatic? I don’t know….maybe a combination of the two? I would advocate for a combination, but not without infrastructural support for the teacher. Charsky had us all read Teachers and Machines, and leave aside the fact that I am now a Larry Cuban groupie, but what I realize after reading it is that the computer and it’s intergation into society does not even compare to previous “machines” that were introduced and virually fotgotten. The computer is already integrated into every sector of our glabal society and there are few occupations that don’t require computer skills (and this is growing) — I don’t know that that was ever the case with previous “machines”. So how can we not have this as an integral part of our education? This isn’t a radio or tv that could potentially enrich the classroom experience, this is a machine that people and scoieties actually depend on now — whether we like it or not. How can we not prepare our youth to be skilled beyond a few webquests and a graphic organizer?

    I’m a good example of someone suffering because of my lack of skills. In my Education Technology class, I’m one of the the very few (maybe only) who has had very little background in technolgy which makes an average assignment that could be completed in a couple hours, take more like 10 hours in my case. This creates a huge disadvantage for me in terms of time. I guess I don’t want any student I ultimately teach to be disadvantaged in any way if I can help it. And so, intergrating technology is a priority for me, though like many teachers, the issue of time is a huge factor in creating opportunities to learn technology that have any meaningful and sustainable benefit — this seems to be the real problem. I guess I don’t subscribe to computers being used as only motivation — ’cause then they will be relegated to the fate of previous machines in the classroom — relatively useless. I think we need to go a step beyond and bring technology into the very core of our standards and curriculum — bit I don’t think the jump and responsiblity should rest entirely on the shoulders of teachers who are already overwhelemed and underpaid.

    All this coming from a woman who has spent half her life in the developing world and who just got a cell phone at age 35 — go figure!

  14. Jeni,
    If you’re only a student (and not yet a teacher) then you’re wise beyond your years. I think you make some important points. I fully agree that outstanding teachers will be amazing regardless of the resources (paper, chalk board, electronic tools, etc.) available to them. Great teachers typically aren’t great because they do or do not use technology. Your point about considering this as the government allocates financial resources is provocative. The USDE states that nearly every classroom in the country has at least one computer connected to the Internet. Are you suggesting that perhaps it’s time to quit updating all these computers and start spending those monies on salaries?
    Thanks for joining in, Jeni. I welcome your continuous participation.

  15. Technology has been part of my education as a student but only a part. Its the teachers that make tools such as chalkboards, computers, wikis, textbooks, and podcasts applicable and useful for the student. I think that teachers could use more training but not the “this is how Word works” type of training but rather a flooding of ideas specific to their courses for practical ways to implement technology. Should the federal government support technology? Sure…they should support good tools but really it would be to their best interest to more fully support the teachers themselves who are the ones that make the magic happen. I mean…the most up to date computers is not going to help kids learn better. Higher wages attract a more highly skilled teacher who could use scrap paper and pencil better than an unskilled teacher loaded with super expensive computer gagets. Technology holds promise for many great classroom enhancement opportunities so lets get the teachers excited about the possibilities by providing loads and loads of real, practical training. It seems that the question should be “What should the government’s role be in supporting teachers as they work to incorporate technology into the educational system?”

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