The U.S. Department of Education has just published this “Guidance on Enhancing Education through Technology (Ed Tech) Program Funds Made Available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009“.
This is certainly one of the most significant things to happen to Education Technology here in the US in years. The ARRA adds $650 million in funds to the original 2009 appropriation of $265 million, bringing the total allotment of funds for Education Technology for 2009 to $915 million! The allocation of funds by state can be found here: http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/statetables/index.html.
The guidance document explains (on page 8 ) that an eligible entity may use these funds to support such activities as:
• Increasing accessibility to technology, particularly through public-private partnerships, with special emphasis on access for high-need schools.
• Adapting or expanding applications of technology to enable teachers to increase student academic achievement, including technology literacy, through the use of research-based teaching practices and innovative distance learning strategies.
• Implementing proven and effective courses and curricula that include integrated technology and that are designed to help students reach challenging academic standards.
• Using technology to promote parental involvement and foster communication among students, parents, and teachers about curricula, assignments, and assessments.
• Preparing one or more teachers in schools as technology leaders who will assist other teachers, and providing bonus payments to the technology leaders.
• Enhancing existing technology and acquiring new technology to support education reforms and to improve student achievement.
• Acquiring connectivity linkages, resources, and services for use by students and school personnel to improve academic achievement and technology literacy.
• Using technology to collect, manage, and analyze data to inform and enhance teaching and school improvement efforts.
• Implementing enhanced performance measurement systems to determine the effectiveness of education technology programs funded with Ed Tech funds.
• Developing, enhancing, or implementing information technology courses.
We'll be discussing these potential uses further in coming weeks (after wrapping up my series on Internet resources for educators who work with special needs students). In the meanwhile, I'd love to hear from any readers who are involved in working with their local educational system to consider best uses of these funds, as well as any educators who have an opinion on this important topic! What are some of the options under consideration, or that you would like to see you school districts consider? Adding equipment, increasing bandwidth, measuring impacts, using existing equipment in a more integrated and impactful way? The possibilities seem endless. The big question is probably how to determine which possible uses of the funds can have the farthest reaching impact. What's your opinion?