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Schools Can Tap Into Ed-Tech Donations, Success Stories, Planning

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School leaders and educators need support to successfully integrate education technology into schools, and Monday hundreds of attendees at ISTE 2015 learned about opportunities for assistance from the White House and the Office of Education Technology.

From millions of dollars worth of unclaimed corporate donations of software and services  through the president's ConnectED Initiative, to the announcement that more Future Ready Schools summits will be announced soon, a panel of federal officials told the audience about an abundance of resources that are available to schools.

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Highlights of the opportunities for educators to learn about, and get more, educational technology include:

Request free software, services, and training from corporations: Twelve companies have committed to making contributions through the president's ConnectED Initiative for K-12 schools, and nine publishers have committed to providing $250 million worth of free e-books through libraries. See the full list of corporate donors here.

Find funds for digital learning: Ed-tech funding strategies are outlined on the Office of Educational Technology's website. It includes a "Dear Colleague" letter that schools can use to find and apply federal grant funding to their personalized learning strategies. 

Exchange stories about how ed tech is working in schools: Schools' stories are being shared on the ed-tech office's website, in a section called "Stories of EdTech Innovation." For instance, at Burlington High School in Massachusetts, students provide tech support, and in Sunnyside schools in Tucson, Ariz., bus rides are mobile wireless hotspots. To sort through the stories on the site, visitors can choose to browse by state, grade, community type, and institution size.

Take the Future Ready pledge and attend an upcoming Future Ready Summit: Nearly 2,000 superintendents have signed the pledge to make all schools in their districts "future ready" for personalized, digital learning, and 12 of 13 Future Ready summits have been held—with one upcoming in Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 5-6—but more will be added to the calendar for the upcoming school year, according to Richard Culatta, the director of the Office of Educational Technology. An online Future Ready Leadership Network is coming soon to provide interactive resources for districts that take the pledge. 

Review, and comment on, a new draft of the National Education Technology Plan: Released in 2010, this plan is being updated, according to Joseph South, a deputy director in the educational technology office. Educators interested in reviewing it and providing input on an early version of the refreshed plan can email [email protected], and include the message, "I want to be an early reviewer of the National Ed Tech Plan."

Graphic: Screenshot of the U.S. Office of Educational Technology home page, highlighting students in Tucson, Arizona's Sunnyside district using a mobile wireless hotspot.

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