For U.S. educators, there has been one primary source of funds from the federal government for educational technology over the past few years. It’s part of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, Title 2d, or Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT). With the passage of the stimulus bill, there is new, additional funding in the range of $650M that will be shared between the 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, according to the same formula that governed the previous EETT funds.
By the way, this money is in addition to the funding that will be in the regular budget, currently $269M. You can’t exactly add those two numbers up, as they cover different time periods, but any way you slice it, this is a lot of money coming — and really soon. (Anyone interested in following this at a federal level should subscribe to Hilary Goldmann’s blog at the ISTE Connects website.)
The hope is that by using existing EETT mechanisms and rules, this money will quickly make its way to states, and then out to districts and service centers, creating or saving jobs and expanding technology-enhanced learning opportunities for all.
Ready, Get Set…. GO!
The key word there is quickly – so the time to get ready is NOW. The next few weeks should see a flurry of information as state education departments decide exactly how to do this. If you’ve been saying… gee, if we only had the money… this is your chance. Dust off those grant proposals, call consortium partners, and watch your state ed tech department closely — because this will happen FAST.
Now comes the shameless promotion — GenYES and TechYES have been the basis of hundreds of successful EETT projects. If you are looking at the power of technology to empower students, support teachers, and create a culture of shared ownership of learning at your school, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or design your own curriculum from scratch.
GenYES is a curriculum and online toolset for student technology teams, either in a class or after school. GenYES students in grades 4-12 learn technology skills, project and collaboration skills, so they can teach teachers, do tech support, and share their technology skills with their school and community. GenYES combines the passion of youth for technology, the benefits of service-learning, support for teachers in their own classrooms, and provides all the resources to get a program up and running quickly. GenYES includes an online help desk where teachers can request help from a GenYES student – whether that help is to hook up a projector or plan a technology infused lesson. The really good news is that the EETT can fully fund GenYES, permanently.
TechYES and TechYES Science are project-based student technology literacy certification programs. Printed and online materials guide students in grades 6-9 through the project-process, allowing students to show technology literacy with real world projects, either academic or personal. One of the NCLB goals is that all students achieve technology literacy by grade 8. TechYES offers a way to meet that goal using a project-based philosophy, because you can’t really show technology literacy through a multiple choice test. (TechYES in Action video)
But whatever approach you take to the EETT funding, I hope you consider putting the emphasis on classroom technology that enhances the student experience, allows students control and ownership of their own learning, and gives teachers professional development that transcends old “sit and get” models.