2010 & Beyond: Recommendations for #NETP16

Wednesday, December 16, 20155:48 PM

Last week, the US Department of Education released the new National Educational Technology Plan (#NETP16). It’s been a hot topic this week but was especially meaningful for me, as I spent most of my first semester in a doctoral policy class examining the 2010 plan (NETP10). In this class, I researched the policy, it’s history, and its impact, evaluating quality through equity, efficiency, political feasibility and effectiveness. My policy brief was due last Thursday, in my last night of class, and just a day before the new plan was released.

I’m eager to really dive into #NETP16 and really read it critically and thoroughly. While I haven’t had the time to do so yet--the PDF clocks in at 106 pages, I’ve dedicated so much of my past months to reading and analyzing #edtech policy, and thought I would share some of my findings here. I look forward to writing more on the topic in the coming weeks. 

As we all learn in school, it’s important to understand history so as to not repeat it, and often to improve the future. Below, find the Executive Summary from my policy brief of NETP10, along with recommendations for future (now current) edtech policy. I’m eager to see how my ideas and vision lined up with that of the federal government and how it’s being realized in our schools. Overall, I was fond of the plan’s scope and vision, but critical of its lack of specific expectations, measures of evaluation, and plans to make the transformation reality with efficiency and equity.


More Reading

While I haven’t completed my full analysis of #NETP16 yet, plenty of others have written about the topic. For more information, I recommend you check out the following: 

Finally, find the content below in an easy to view Google Doc here. I’m excited to explore #edtech policy more in my blogging and doctoral writing. As educators, its important to understand the policy and plans that shape the bigger landscape of education so we can navigate its ever-changing waves and really make change in our schools, with our teachers, and most importantly, for our students’.

NETP10 Executive Summary

The United States’ policy to address education reform in technology planning and integration is the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 [NETP], Transforming American Education Learning Powered by Technology. This five-year plan calls for widespread change that is intended impact education at all levels, focusing on reforms in five areas: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity (OET, 2010a). According to Dede, the NETP “presents an affordable, transformational, vision for 21st century education, infusing technology into every aspect of learning in school and out” (2011, p. 4). The Obama Administration argues that this plan will help to impact the achievement gap and improve college graduation rates (OET, 2010b, p. 8; OET, 2014a; OET, 2014b). The largest shift in the NETP affects funding, infrastructure, devices, and instruction in the call for all students and teachers to have access to high-speed Internet and devices at school (Waters, 2011; OET 2010a; OET 2010b). 

The NETP calls for a number of large transformations in the use of technology in schools, but they lack clear plans for implementation or evaluation. With few concrete inputs and no timeline of expectations at any level, the plan lacks clear efficiency (Sloan, 2011; Shimbukuro, 2010) despite the Department of Education [DOE] and Office of Educational Technology [OET] having published additional complementary policies (OET, 2014a; OET, 2014b). Additionally, the plan does not do enough to address issues of equity and political feasibility, providing few details on how to support schools and populations that cannot afford to fund these expensive reform efforts (Margeau, 2014; Shimbukuro, 2010; Sloan, 2011; Boatright, 2014). This lack of financial guidance, changes in federal and state funding, and consistent budgetary shortfalls all create enormous challenges to how states and districts will plan for and execute these shifts (Nagel, 2010; Potts, Schlichting, Pridgen, & Hatch, 2010; Quillen, 2010; Waters, 2011). The vision that lies within the NETP, cannot be met without instructions or recommendations for the implementation and evaluation of educational technology at the state and district levels. Without a stronger framework for its execution, the effectiveness and overall quality of the NETP are called into question.


The NETP is one piece in the larger puzzle of school reform, and while it has meaningful and worthwhile vision, and may have success in the future, the vision for tomorrow must be more concretely applied and measured today. Still, the OET is looking forward, awarding $449,983 to the American Institutes for Research to develop a new NETP, (Future, 2014), still without a plan for evaluating or assessing current policy. Additionally, while the Common Core State Standards [CCSS] place value in technology and require its integration and use, they are being implemented at the same time as the Annual Professional Performance Review [APPR] process, which limits the impact for some schools (Cavanagh, 2013). Whereas the spirit of NETP encourages the use of data to drive technology integration, much of the technology is being used for testing rather than learning (Davis, 2015; Gewertz, 2015). Similarly, technology purchases are often geared towards standardized testing, leading to a problematic execution of the plan. Christopher (2014) found that

“In light of CCSS, states and local school systems are expected to change their curriculum and professional learning programs to meet the changing needs of their teachers and students. Given the connections between policy, accountability, and professional development, advocates for effective technology integration must make the connections between CCSS and technology integration clear to decision makers and professional development planners” (p. 3)

To fully evaluate the quality of the NETP, more research is needed to measure both its qualitative and quantitative outputs, both for 2010-2015, and beyond. As the current plan expires and the future plan is released, the following recommendations could lead to future success in the quality and implementation of national educational technology policy and reform:

The OET must establish clear criteria for the success and evaluation of the 2010 NETP.
  • Through ConnectEd and other initiatives, the DOE must do more to address cost, access, and equity issues inherent in educational technology reform. 
  • Technology integration must become a valued part of regular and purposeful teaching, learning, and professional development for all schools.
  • The DOE and OET must clarify concrete expectations for states’ participation in and timelines for implementation of educational technology policy and reform. 
  • The next NETP must include a expand on the transformations described in the 2010 plan, while also including clear plans for funding, budgeting, and evaluation (Byron & Bingham, 2001, p. 2).

How do you feel about #NETP16? How is the vision of #edtech policy--past or present--realized in your professional practice or schools? Share your thoughts, questions, or comments here or on Twitter!

You Might Also Like