U.S. Rep. George Miller of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, recently proposed a new bill that would provide $500 million in grants to states and schools for educational technology. The bill is backed by numerous educational organizations that say the legislation would be a step forward in teaching students increasingly important technology skills that are now required to succeed in college and in the workforce, reported eSchool News.
"With no dedicated federal funding over the last few years for classroom technology, and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act stalled, [this bill] will be a rallying opportunity for the entire education community to … underscore the key roll digital learning plays in all aspects of teaching and learning to ensure all students are college and career ready," said the International Society for Technology in Education in a statement.
Transforming Education Through Technology Act
The legislation, if passed, would help schools redesign their curriculums to meet educational standards, increase student engagement and train teachers in the use of digital learning practices:
- Incorporating games, blended learning, online credit accumulation, and other digital strategies
- Providing professional development, training and online communities for educators
- Aligning teachers and other leaders with ed-tech and digital learning standards
- Improving efficiency and productivity through open educational resources and hybrid learning that extends the reach of effective teaching
The bill would also help schools increase their IT infrastructure so they could implement these digital learning initiatives. This includes: enhancing broadband and wiring capabilities, purchasing hardware and software, and migrating schools to online assessment systems. As part of this investment in new software, some schools might incorporate a classroom management tool like Faronics' InSight that allows teachers to control students' screens, share screens across multiple devices and have individual chats with students. Features like these can help teachers maintain focus and provide a non-intimidating way for students to ask questions.
Due to political pressures to cut federal spending, the bill may have some obstacles to overcome. However, many believe that this is one area where money should be spent.
"Technology is enriching nearly every facet of our lives," said Bob Wise, president of AEE and former governor of West Virginia, to eSchool News. "Unfortunately, the nation's system of education has yet to fully embrace the potential of technology and digital learning. I applaud Congressman Miller for introducing legislation that will bring promise of technology to the nation's classrooms."
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