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Ed Technology Gets Hearing on Capitol Hill

On Capitol Hill yesterday, teacher Lisa Short schooled members of the House education committee on technology's potential for boosting learning, and then she gave them a pop quiz to make sure they were paying attention.

All the testimony is on the committee's YouTube channel, and here is a video of Short during her presentation:

The science teacher from Gaithersburg Middle School in suburban Maryland asked the members to use handheld clicker devices to register their answers to a question about the percentage of the nation's schools that utilize the kind of interactive whiteboards that have been effective for her students. The dozen or so members all answered correctly, just 16 percent. Then the teacher told them that 7 in 10 schools in the United Kingdom are equipped with such products.

I covered the hearing on Twitter and you can read my tweets at @kmanzo. But the message from Short and other panelists, including Aneesh Chopra, the chief technology officer at the White House Office for Science and Technology, was that if U.S. students are going to be prepared for success in the global workplace they need access to effective tech tools and high-quality, tech-enhanced content.

Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., agreed:

"It seems to me we're in a bit of a race here," he said in his closing comments. "If we do not adapt, [by finding effective ways of] embedding technology in the schoolday, we're going to lose."

After the hearing there was a showcase in the foyer for vendors to demonstrate their products. I caught up with some ed-tech experts there to get their perspectives on the hearing. For Mary Ann Wolf, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, or SEDTA, the takeaways from the hearing were about the need for professional development, the potential for using technology to assess student progress, and the demand for research to identify best practices and the most effective ways for using tech tools to boost student learning.

I was also able to talk with Chopra about the federal commitment to technology for improving education. He said that despite the proposed cuts to the EETT program in President Obama's budget, the additional $650 million in economic stimulus money will help move ed-tech efforts forward.

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