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Funding Runs Out for NCTI Conventions, Programs

While technology developers have made great strides in creating tools to assist students with disabilities, the results aren't always enough to win the battle for more funding.

Case in point? The National Center of Technology Integration, which is housed in Washington at the nonprofit American Institutes for Research, is losing its funding at the end of the month, or the end of fiscal year 2011, according to a "Dear Colleague" letter sent to Education Week. The center is funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs within the U.S. Department of Education.

As a result, the NCTI won't host its annual Technology Innovators Conference this year, which was slated for November, nor will it be able to support its annual Tech in the Works competition, which has linked researchers with vendors to support quick-turnaround research about the intersection of technology use with students with special needs.

The letter does not address the possibility of refunding the center in coming years.

The center has for the past decade focused on fostering technology innovations that assist individuals with disabilities by helping researchers, developers, manufacturers, and publishers create commercially viable products to teach such students. Its loss will be big for a community that appears to be experiencing growing benefits from educational technology, but is short on research that shows efficacy. The NCTI had been working with the Assistive Technology Industry Association to bolster that research field.

Further, the loss perhaps underscores skepticism ed-tech advocates have shown toward the Department of Education's stated intention to fund other projects to aid research in education technology at the expense of other federal programs like Enhancing Education Through Technology, a $100 million formula and competitive grant program that was nixed in federal budget negotiations.

Work from previous NCTI conferences is archived online, and will remain on the center's website after the cease in funding takes effect on Sept. 30.

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