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2024 National Educational Technology Plan

Authors: Samantha Goldman;

In January, the Office of Educational Technology released the 2024 National Educational Technology Plan entitled “A Call to Action for Closing the Digital Access, Design, and Use Divides”. The focus of the plan is on closing digital divides. It defines the digital use divide as an inequitable implementation of technology use, bringing more awareness to an issue highlighted in a previous CIDDL blog. Some students use technology for purely passive task completion, whereas others use it to create, produce, build, and analyze. The digital design divide refers to the inequality in professional learning opportunities, wherein practitioners can learn to design learning experiences through educational technology. The final area, the digital access divide, refers to inequitable access to devices, connectivity, and content. This includes digital health, safety, citizenship skills, and accessibility. 

Key Recommendations

The plan includes recommendations for closing each divide. The eight recommendations as to how to close the digital use divide include (1) developing competencies students should have as they move between grade levels, (2) design and use needs assessments, technology plans, and evaluations to support and sustain these competencies, (3) encourage students to be co-designers of the learning experiences, (4) create rubrics to assess the usability, accessibility, and customization of each new tool, (5) consider how digital literacy and active technology use can be integrated into grade-level scope and sequences, (6) build partnerships with local businesses, non-profits, and institutes of higher education to provide hands-on experiences for students, (7) provide opportunities for practitioners and administrators for professional learning and technical assistance, and (8) develop guidelines to protect student data privacy and ensure that new and emerging technology aligns to the educational vision and learning principles. 

Recommendations for closing the design divide include (1) creating competencies for educators that explore what they need to help students develop the competencies they need, (2) providing support and time for new and veteran teachers and administrators to design learning opportunities, particularly those aligned with the Universal Design for Learning framework, (3) empower educators with means to provide feedback, (4) provide professional learning opportunities where educators and administrators can learn about digital literacy, so that they can support and model this for their students, (5) create processes for evaluating digital tools for effectiveness before purchase, (6) create a culture of inclusive design, and (7) trust and empower educators. 

Recommendations to close the access device include (1) creating expectations that do not depend on space, (2) hiring an ed-tech director that helps with effective and meaningful spending of edtech funds, (3) continually conducting needs assessments, (4) ensuring there are guidelines in place to ensure policies remain up-to-date, (5) include community partners in the creation of learning technology plans, (6) work with public and private partners to increase broadband internet access, (7) ensure accessibility, and (8) develop expectations for digital health, safety, citizenship, and media literacy. 

A Focus on Universal Design for Learning

The plan focuses on inclusion, accessibility, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The plan clearly emphasizes impacting all learners with several references to the framework and examples of how it can support closing the digital divide. Specifically, the plan focuses on UDL within the context of digital design concerning state and district adoption and lesson design and use to align the adoption of technology tools to the principles outlined in the framework. 

Use in Personnel Preparation

This is not the first National EdTech Plan released by the Department of Educational Technology. Previous plans date back to 1996. First and foremost, talk to your pre-service practitioners about the existence of these plans. They are wealths of knowledge and invaluable support for those looking to integrate technology into their classrooms. Second, provide them with opportunities to experience and practice the principles laid out in the plan. How can they create technology needs assessments? What kinds of supports exist for developing digital literacy? Bring the plan to life for them with examples and models. Finally, bring them into the conversation. Invite them to join the CIDDL community and engage with us about the issues highlighted in the plan. Encourage them to frequent the Office of Educational Technology’s webpage, including their resources page, so that they can remain up-to-date. 

Share Your Thoughts

After you read through the National Ed Tech Plan, join the conversation in our community!