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SETDA Report Identifies Key Ed-Tech Priorities

by guest blogger Mike Bock

The State Educational Technology Directors Association, or SETDA, has released a 132-page report on key priorities and national trends in digital education.

The report focuses on new learning initiatives, which are grouped into four general categories, serving as a resource for educators seeking to improve their own local technology programs. The entire document, complete with appendices, is available for free.

Here's a quick recap:

Learning Infrastructure
This section focuses on issues around access to broadband connections, which the report referred to as "essential" to learning, as new technologies and applications typically require fast Internet speeds. At the same time, hardware must be able to properly utilize new programs and methods of virtual learning. The report says tracking student data via digital databases is a 'must' by this point, one that the Illinois Instructional Data Portal is doing well.

Educator Effectiveness
The report says professional development opportunities, such as collaborative online communities and hybrid courses, should help teachers organize and structure their lesson plans more effectively. Among the initiatives mentioned in the report is Alaska's Digital Sandbox project, an online repository for K-12 lesson plans. And much like students, the report says teachers should also have better access to faster Internet speeds and modern devices.

Innovative Learning Models
According to the report, educators should focus on encouraging students to take advantage of digital resources and create their own personalized learning experiences. Technology-rich environments are the key to harnessing new learning methods, and open-source content, project-based collaborative learning, and online learning all engage students through non-traditional methods. One example highlighted by the report is Virginia's i-Learn project, which provides students and teachers with Apple products and instruction to develop apps for Apple's iTouch.

College and Career Preparation
This section focuses on preparing students for college (through readiness initiatives and development of STEM courses, and supporting students who have not been successful in traditional schools. Louisiana's HIGHTech program, for instance, was highlighted for providing teachers with training on how to engage students through new media and technology.

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