By Ally Kutz, contributing writer
On December 10, President Barack Obama passed into law the revisions made to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, collectively called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These revisions, which totaled 1,059 pages, include support for education technology.
The bill authorized $1.65 billion for education technology as well as other services defined under ”student services,” including drug and violence prevention and student counseling. The technology aspect includes training for teachers to use new technologies in the classroom. This comes at a time when only one-third of teachers feel prepared to use computers for classroom instruction, and more than three-fourths report spending 32 or fewer hours on tech-related development activities.
The new bill offers “official” definitions for terms like “blended learning,” defining it as “a formal education program that leverages both technology-based and face-to-face instructional approaches A) that include an element of online or digital learning, combined with supervised learning time, and student-led learning, in which the elements are connected to provide an integrated learning experience and B) in which students are provided some control over time, path, or pace.”
It also defines “digital learning,” a term within the definition for blended learning, as “any instructional practice that effectively uses technology to strengthen a student’s learning experience and encompasses a wide spectrum of tools and practices.”
It even goes as far as to define “technology” as “modern information, computer and communication technology products, services, or tools, including the Internet and other communications networks, computer devices and other computer and communications hardware, software applications, data systems, and other electronic content (including multimedia content) and data storage.”
ESSA also provides solutions providers with an idea of how much of their clients’ budgets could be earmarked for technology. The act states the Secretary of Education “shall reserve 2 percent [of the budget] for technical assistance and capacity building” and “local educational agency shall not use more than 15 percent of funds for purchasing technology infrastructure.”