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Doug Levin, Voice on Ed Tech, Leaving State Advocacy Organization

By guest blogger Michelle R. Davis

Change is on the horizon for the State Educational Technology Directors Association, as its long-time executive director has announced he will step down as of Feb. 13.  

Douglas Levin, who has been the voice of SETDA on everything from the E-rate to schools' overall technology needs, was the organization's first full-time executive director. Levin said he's currently evaluating what his next professional step will be, but said he's leaving to pursue other opportunities and hopes to "build on the work I've been doing for nearly 25 years...in a variety of roles."

SETDA has named Lan Nugent, a former organization board member and one-time assistant superintendent for technology at the Virginia Department of Education, as an interim executive director, Levin said.

For five years, Levin has been the primary spokesman for SETDA. Over that time, the landscape of technology and education has shifted greatly. When he began his leadership role with SETDA, iPads and Chromebooks didn't exist; the two main Common Core State Standards consortia—the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium—had not yet been formed; the federal Enhancing Education Through Technology grant program was riding high (it's since been defunded); and the K-12 ed-tech space was not being flooded with startup companies, some backed with significant amounts of support from venture capitalists.

Levin said he is particularly proud of SETDA's role in pushing for changes to the E-rate program. In 2014, the Federal Communications Commission modernized the program, which provides federal funds to schools and libraries to make telecommunications and information services more affordable. The FCC pumped new money into the E-rate program and made it easier to for schools and districts to use it to improve broadband and wireless Internet service in schools.

SETDA helped put that issue on the public radar screen in 2012, Levin said, with its report "The Broadband Imperative." The report framed lack of high-speed connectivity in schools as an equity concern.

"At the time, it was not something people were talking about," Levin said. "We brought attention to that issue."

Within that report, SETDA recommended targets for school broadband of speeds no less than 100 megabits per second with a target of 1 gigabit per second. It's a recommendation that the FCC built on within its E-rate policy.

"That will have lasting impact," Levin said. "In my experience in Washington, the times are few and far between when you can draw a very clear line between the work you're involved with and a policy change. In this case, it's that direct."


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