Federal Policy

Feds: 2011 Budget Makes 'Strong Commitment to Technology'

[Editor's note: The link to the ed tech budget document on OSTP's site has changed. It can now be accessed online here. We will update this article if that document's location changes again. --David Nagel]

Does the proposed elimination of EETT mean the end of federal education technology spending? Not according to information quietly released Feb. 1 by the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP), which provided some insight into the intent behind the numbers revealed in the 2011 federal budget proposed Monday by the Obama administration.

The three-page document, "A New Foundation for 21st Century Learning: Education Technology Investments in the 2011 Budget," dated Feb. 1, 2010, tackled education technology funding point by point in the proposed 2011 budget, including the elimination of funding for the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program--the sole source of federal funding specifically dedicated to education technology. (The President's budget refers to EETT as "Educational Technology State Grants.")

The document explained: "The Administration is not requesting separate funding for Educational Technology State Grants in 2011 but rather is encouraging the infusion of educational technology across programs in order to improve teaching and learning, build the capacity at the State and local level to support better use of technology to maximize efficiency and the effective transfer of knowledge."

According to the document, the intent behind the elimination of EETT and the shifting of the funds into a broader "Effective Teaching and Learning for a Complete Education" category was to encourage the integration of technology throughout a broad range of programs.

"The 2011 Budget makes a strong commitment to technology that transforms how educators teach and how students learn," OSTP explained in the document. "The President strongly believes that technology, when used creatively and effectively, can transform education and training in the same way that it has transformed the private sector. It makes a broad array of Department of Education programs, including the $500 million 'Investing in Innovation' Fund, eligible for technology-related investments, encouraging the infusion of educational technology across a broad range of programs in order to improve teaching and learning, and build the capacity at the State and local level to support better uses of technology for efficient and effective transfer of knowledge."

OSTP said that there will be strategic investments in technology to help overcome the gap "between the potential of technology and its impact on education and training"--implying that, to date, education technology has not lived up to its potential, or at least has not been documented to do so well enough. According to the document, these strategic investments will be elaborated upon when the National Education Technology Plan is made public later this year. But OSTP did provide a preliminary look at the priorities for the investments, which will include:

  • Developing "transformative education technology";
  • Developing technology-based interventions;
  • Adopting common standards and platforms;
  • Funding research to "advance the state of the art";
  • Validating current technologies and technology-based interventions that are working;
  • Developing common evidence standards for validating such technologies through the National Science Foundation, ED, and the Department of Defense, among others; and
  • Investing in technologies that work in order to "scale" them up.

OSTP also provided some specific guidance on where funding for technology-based interventions can originate, including (cited from the "New Foundation" document):

  • Title I ($14.5 billion);
  • Portions of the Excellent Instructional Teams initiative ($3.9 billion);
  • Race to the Top ($1.35 billion);
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers ($1.2 billion);
  • Graduation Promise Grants ($1.2 billion over three years);
  • English Learner Education ($800 million);
  • Assessing Achievement ($450 million);
  • College Pathways and Accelerated Learning ($100,000); and
  • Expanding Educational Options ($90 million).

Other sources of funding for non-intervention technologies may include, according to OSTP:

  • The Investing in Innovation Fund ($500 million) for "development, validation and [scaling] up of innovative activities for which there is evidence of effectiveness";
  • The American Graduation Initiative ($500 million over 10 years) to "design platforms, standards and content for world-class online courses and instructional materials available at community colleges and the Department of Defense's distributed learning network for students to gain knowledge, skills and credentials"; and
  • NSF's Cyberlearning Transformation Education program ($40 million) for developing "advanced learning technologies across all levels of education, with a focus on STEM learning and workforce development and the study of the learning process itself."

OSTP also indicated that, through new program designs, states and LEAs will have "stronger incentives to use their program funds for cost-effective technology strategies that help achieve program outcomes."

Further information can be found on OSTP's site here. Further information about the budget as it relates to education technology can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .