Early this week, ABA attended the October 2012 State Education Technology Directors Association (SEDTA) meeting with our client, SymbaloEdu. What happened at the meeting?
Lots of face to face meetings with delegates we've come to know, some great sessions including updates from the states on Big Data initiatives, broadband and device access, preparing high quality online assessments and accelerating the shift to digital and open content. These were preceded by an enlightening plenary by Betsy Corcoran, co-founder and CEO of EdSurge. If you aren't currently subscribed, you should be at www.edsurge.com. Her talk focused on the current environment of innovation, fueled by investment from the new crop of Internet entrepreneurs with an interest in education. This interest coupled with a new economy in which a business can be launched with very little initial investment, have resulted in a proliferation of education start-ups trying to reach the market, many of whom solve one small problem in learning. We will be talking about that in greater depth in an upcoming article.
The luncheon program continued the tradition of hearing from
students, and in this case we were
treated with perspectives from three high school boys, each with very different experiences. All were from Jamesville School District in Wisconsin. Cathy White, the Assistive Technology Specialist at the district, spoke in depth about technology tools she has used with students, not only those diagnosed with learning challenges, but all students who may have less obvious challenges to overcome. Jamesville is using her knowledge and experience to extend to others in the teaching staff. Atomic Learning has developed excellent materials for training in this area that schools and districts have found useful. The ever-increasing movement towards personalized learning underscores the need for educators to be equipped with this kind of knowledge to support all learners. The recognition of the needs of these three young men, coupled with the necessary tech tools to serves those unique needs, led to tremendous outcomes in achievement well beyond what we would have seen even ten years ago.
The first full day’s program was capped by a panel of Education Technology leaders, Linda Roberts, director of technology for the DOE during the Clinton administration, John Bailey, who held that position during the GW Bush years, and Karen Cator, who is currently in that role. They shared insights about major trends including the impact of such trends as mobile and wireless and personalization. They agreed that the policy impact was enormous in the establishment of eRate, and that cloud computing has shifted companies from annual software releases to iterative modifications and improvements to Internet delivered learning. This is really interesting since for many years the stability of software throughout the school years was such a factor in product selection for so long.
Most valuable to all of the companies in our industry was the announced release of State Education Policy Center, (SEPC) which has been created as a repository of state policies at http://sepc.setda.org/. This provides, in one central place, the unique policies that guide purchasing and use of instructional materials for the different states. "The SEPC is intended to provide up-to-date information regarding select technology-related education policies and practices to inform school reform and improvement efforts." This site is open to the education community at large in hopes that cross-pollination of ideas will lead to better policies by all.
Another important release came from National State School Boards Association, Born In Another Time, Ensuring Educational Technology Meets The Needs Of Students Today. An executive summary is downloadable at http://assess4ed.net/resources/ensuring-educational-technology-meets-needs-students-today-%E2%80%93-and-tomorrow-nasbe-report-0
Finally, but very importantly was the release of yet another report, Out of Print, Reimagining the K12 Textbook in a Digital Age. This more lengthy report can be found at www.SETDA.org.
Some things to remember about this organization’s reports:
- These studies and reports are jointly produced by state and corporate members, so they represent a true collaboration.
- While the reports are valuable, active participation, if appropriate, is far more valuable in the long run.
- These reports contain information of value well beyond the scope of technology.