Embracing the mantra “no child left off-line,” a state task force is offering a vision of how California classrooms can embrace education technology to enhance learning.
Convened by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in 2012, the Education Technology Task Force’s report, Empowering Learning: California’s Education Technology Blueprint, 2014-17, notes that a report from the California Emerging Technology Fund found that “more than 9 million Californians who live in remote rural communities, on tribal lands, in low-income neighborhoods, or who have a disability do not have the benefit of high-speed connections to the Internet.”
The report, released today, says that “to ensure a technology skills gap will not become the next achievement gap,” California needs to provide every student, teacher and administrator with access to at least one Internet-connected device. It also recommends providing grade-appropriate instruction in the use of technology, including computer science and programming.
The 48 volunteers that comprise the task force include teachers, administrators, technology directors, local and county superintendents, school board members, parents, researchers, policy advocates and foundation and community members from around the state. They made 19 recommendations in the areas of learning, teaching, assessment and infrastructure.
Among those recommendations is a call for professional and curriculum development and teacher certification programs in education technology instruction. In addition, the report says, all schools must have the technology they need to implement the new computer-based Smarter Balanced assessments that are replacing the pencil-and-paper Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests.
Under the topic of infrastructure, California should “explore the deployment of statewide cloud computing data centers” and create a senior-level position for education technology at the California Department of Education, the task force recommends.
Some of the recommendations “intersect with work already underway in California,” Torlakson said, such as the $1.25 billion allocated for Common Core state standards implementation, which can be used for equipment, training and materials.
“As California continues to move toward college and career readiness for every child, education technology has to be part of what we do,” Torlakson said in a press release. “I’ve visited classrooms up and down the state and seen everything from virtual science experiments to online group projects. From Common Core to the new Smarter Balanced assessments, our state – which has always led the way in innovation – is focused on preparing students with the real-world skills they need. This new blueprint charts a smart course for getting us there.”