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California Launches Ed-Tech Task Force

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson Saturday announced the creation of a 48-member state Education Technology Task Force that will have among its goals the alignment of its own state ed-tech plan, published in 2005, with the National Education Technology Plan put out by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010.

While the creation of such organizations is "not super unusual," according to State Educational Technology Directors Association Executive Director Douglas Levin, it is notable because of California's size and its unique position as the home of Silicon Valley, he said in an email.

And while California's state budget is particularly crunched, Torlakson in a press release said that the task force's work now would be crucial to allow schools to better implement technology when more funding becomes available in the future.

"Many schools have been all but left out of the technology revolution," Torlakson said in the release. "If we're serious about providing students a world-class education, we need a plan that leaves no school and no child offline."

The task force will explore ed-tech by focusing on five areas—learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity—in a manner similar to the organization of the National Education Technology Plan. (The national plan also includes a sixth focus on research and development.) The organization will likely present recommendations to Torlakson and develop a "California Educational Blueprint over the next few months," according to the release.

United States Deputy Director of Education Technology Steve Midgley is part of the 48-member volunteer group, as are representatives from state ed-tech advocate Computer-Using Educators, nonprofit research group WestEd, youth media watchdog Common Sense Media, and the philanthropic Silicon Valley Education Foundation.

The California task force is not the first such group, Levin said, with states such as Arizona, Nevada, and New York having standing committees on education technology within their state education departments. Other efforts in Idaho, Ohio and Wisconsin are also among the most noteworthy, Levin indicated.

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