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You'd Better Watch Out: US Department of Education Technology Virus Is Coming to Town

by Susan Ohanian

The US Department of Education starts their new 71-page booklet, Future Ready Schools: Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning, with an important announcement.

The mention of trade names, commercial products or organizations in this report does not imply endorsements by the U.S. government. Further, the inclusion of information or URL does not reflect the importance of the organization, nor is it intended to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered. The U.S. Department of Education is not responsible for controlling or guaranteeing the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of this information.

This report is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce this report in whole or in part is granted.
While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the suggested citation is: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, Future Ready Schools: Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning, Washington, D.C., 2014.

This report is available on the Department's Web site at http://tech.ed.gov.

Wowser! At last the US Department of Education admits that they can't verify the truthiness of their pronouncements.

My first thought was this should be headlines at the New York Times. But then I realized that only the editorial writers believe anything the DOE says. And Brent Staples and friends don't write headlines.

The Department's acknowledgment of the help they received in putting this report together is illuminating--if you follow some hot links (Of course the DOE failed to supply any info): It's a report extolling the need for computers but they fail to make use of technology--except to insert some pretty little boxes containing quotes by Obama and Duncan hyping technology in the schools. Anywhere, here's where the DOE went for info on why our schools need to be hyper-wired: SRI International, an outfit started at Stanford in 1946 but now independent. Here's what their website says they do: We move R&D from the laboratory to the marketplace to create high value and real innovation. Four SRI people worked on the report, as did someone from S2 Enterprises LLC.

The Feds also thank these experts for help: Qualcomm, e-luminosity (focusing on scalability, sustainability, advocacy and strategic partnerships for broadband and technology infrastructure), CSM Consulting, Director, Education Segment Marketing at AT&T, Digital West Networks[end-to-end data infrastructure provider],Dicoer Education Technology Management, Rogers Family Foundation, The Quilt, Cisco (2 people) [website provides no info; according to Wikipedia the CEO made political donations totaling over $180,000 to the Democratic Party and over $1,000,000 to the Republican Party and served as a co-chair in John McCain's 2008 presidential bid], Education Superhighway ("40 million students are being left behind; Take the Internet speed test"), Consortium for School Networking(offering enhanced platinum sponsorship for $80,000 per year; sponsor list), a behavioral psychologist at Microsoft, technology people at three state education departments, director of public information, Sunnyside Unified School District.

"In addition, a Technical Working Group of K-12 chief technology officers reviewed drafts of the guide."

I checked all that out, hoping to find a teacher someplace.

Oh well, business as usual and moving right along:

Introduction: The Promise of Ubiquitous Connected Learning

The U.S. Department of Education's National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) presents a model of learning powered by technology to help the nation�s schools provide all students with engaging and powerful learning content, resources, and experiences. The plan calls for revolutionary transformation rather than
evolutionary tinkering.



1. being everywhere
2. omnipresent
3. pervasive
4. wall-to-wall
5. can't-escape-from-it

Note that by revolution they mean plugging everybody into Ubiquity.

Next comes this claim:

Technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, and we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences and content, as well as resources and assessments that measure student achievement in more complete, authentic, and
meaningful ways.
--National Education Technology Plan, p. ix

Note that assessment is put right up front.


For the vision established by the NETP to be fully realized, access to web-based tools and resources needs to be both instantaneous and ubiquitous inside as well as outside school. To provide students with the education they need to thrive in a globally connected world, we must find ways to design, fund, acquire, and maintain the infrastructure that will make connectivity a reality for every teacher and student in every classroom

The Need for Speed is highlighted with this quote: "We are denying our teachers and students the tools they need to be successful. That is educationally unsound and morally unacceptable."
--Secretary Duncan, June 17, 2013"

Mr. Duncan's claim is educationally unsound and morally unacceptable. Hey, he's covered. Go back to the intro, wherein the US Department of Education said:

The U.S. Department of Education is not responsible for controlling or guaranteeing the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of this information.

You can see why these folks at the US Department of Education can't stand behind their words--and don't talk to any educators. The theory driving their plan is Install it and somebody will use it. Although I acknowledge a certain truth to this, I reject this wild embrace of speed and virtual learning as primary goals. A few conversations with teachers might well reveal a much smarter, more useful path.

I'm only on page 8. If you get this far, I advise stopping and reading Maurice Holt's article from the 2002 Phi Delta Kappan: It's Time to Start the Slow School Movement.


Slow Down.

— Susan Ohanian




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