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Department of Education Developing New National Ed Tech Plan

The Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology continues to work on developing its new National Ed Tech Plan. Once the contract is awarded and work commences, the plan will take 12-18 months to finish.

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K-12, higher ed and adult learning education spaces have changed dramatically in the five years since the most recent National Education Technology Plan (NETP) was created in 2017 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (OET). Much of that change was a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic turning the ecosystem on its head in March 2020. Now the OET is in the process of creating a new NETP that factors in much of the change the pandemic has caused.

The office began working on the new plan — OET's flagship policy document, which establishes a national vision for how schools and districts across the country use technology to advance equity and opportunity for all students — and sought submissions for technical support in developing its seventh iteration in May, but as of this week had not yet announced a contract being issued. Meanwhile, OET Deputy Director Kristina Ishmael told Government Technology she's been traveling to conferences around the country, such as the International Society for Technology in Education's ISTELive 22 in New Orleans and AWS IMAGINE in Seattle, to promote her office and solicit educators and IT professionals for input into the new plan. DoE spokeswoman Elaine Quesinberry said that the OET travels to events such as the ISTE conference to deliberately seek out feedback, and will do so into the future as the NETP takes shape.

“The pandemic and increased cybersecurity concerns are among the factors that have impacted the digital landscape since the release of the 2017 NETP,” Quesinberry told Government Technology in an email. “It is vital for the department to get current feedback from educators, IT professionals and others who have a firsthand understanding of the issues that need to be addressed in the new plan.”

At the June conference, alongside sessions on the E-rate program, e-sports, tech needs and data privacy, Ishmael explained how the OET is continuing to work toward transforming teaching and learning into an anytime, anywhere format through policy. Its priorities, Ishmael said, are digital inclusion, namely meaning broadband connectivity but also digital content, instructional models and literacy; ecosystems, including digital infrastructure; and tracking trends.

“Ed tech changes quickly and requires iterations of this plan to ensure it is reflective of what is happening in classrooms and keeps an eye on the horizon for what’s coming,” Quesinberry wrote in an email.

She said the OET intends to award the contract for the NETP in the coming weeks. At that time, it will take 12 to 18 months to finalize a project plan that will “dive into the research to inform the policy.”

“The National Ed Tech Plan is a significant policy document that requires time, attention and thoughtful consideration for what works best for learners and educators,” Quesinberry said.

She added that the plan goes through research, constituent listening sessions and technical working groups on the path to creation. It also gets workshopped with various audiences to ensure its relevance, timeliness and applicability, she said.

“OET will certainly do its due diligence in the research and development of the refreshed NETP,” Quesinberry said.
Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. He has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional soccer over his more than 15-year reporting career. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.