April 18, 2014
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Releases Education Technology Blueprint
MILPITAS—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson's Education Technology Task Force released a new report today that outlines steps California should take to ensure education technology can be an effective, safe, and productive tool for learning over the next few years.
"As California continues to move toward college and career readiness for every child, education technology has to be part of what we do," Torlakson said. "I've visited classrooms up and down the state and seen everything from virtual science experiments to online group projects. From Common Core to the new Smarter Balanced assessments, our state—which has always led the way in innovation—is focused on preparing student with the real-world skills they need. This new blueprint charts a smart course for getting us there."
Torlakson convened his Education Technology Task Force in 2012 to recommend ways to bring 21st century tools into California's classrooms to improve teaching and learning. The Education Technology Task Force's report, Empowering Learning: California Education Technology Blueprint, 2014 – 2017 (Ed Tech Blueprint) focuses on four key areas: learning, teaching, assessment, and infrastructure.
- Learning: Every student, teacher, and administrator should have access to Internet-connected devices. There should be instruction on how to use technology, as well as policies and best practices to prevent cyberbullying and protect student data. Classroom technology should also be integrated throughout California's K-12 and higher education systems.
- Teaching: Barriers should be removed that restrict teachers from using technology to educate students. Professional development and certification programs in technology instruction should be created to support teachers. An online learning community can help teachers share best practices. California should join other states in providing and sharing educational resources.
- Assessment: The state should identify technology gaps, establish professional development programs for using technology in assessments, and develop recognition programs.
- Infrastructure: Partnerships should be formed to enhance technology and Internet connectivity. School districts should design facilities with technology and the Common Core State Standards in mind. Measures should be taken to close the digital divide between those who can and cannot afford technology. There should be statewide cloud computing data centers. Finally, the California Department of Education should create a senior-level position for education technology to help lead this transition.
Some of the recommendations intersect with work already underway in California, such as schools' receipt of $1.25 billion in a Common Core implementation block grant that could go toward equipment, training, and materials. Torlakson has also gathered a group of state schools chiefs from around the nation to push for modernizing the federal E-rate program, under which a surcharge on telephone bills provides discounts for telecommunications and Internet access for schools and libraries.
The recommendations in the Empowering Learning: California Education Technology Blueprint, 2014 – 2017 are detailed on the California Department of Education's California Education Technology Blueprint Web page.