News Article

Benton, CCT Release New EdTech Report at NCTET Summit

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At today's National Coalition for Technology in Education & Training (NCTET) Leadership Summit in Washington DC, the Benton Foundation and the Education Development Center's Center for Children and Technology (CCT) released their new report, The Sustainability Challenge: Taking Edtech to the Next Level. In the last 10 years, the United States has invested over $40 billion placing computers in schools and connecting classrooms to the Internet. The report, which will also be available online later this week at the Web site, cautions that this massive investment in educational technology, or edtech, may be at risk.

"The overall goal of the Summit is to increase support and momentum within the private and public sectors for our national commitment to using technology to improve education and training," explained Donelle Blubaugh, Chair, NCTET Board and Director of Education, Cable in the Classroom. "As a nation we are at an educational crossroad with calls for higher standards, improved achievement, and increased accountability."

The Sustainability Challenge outlines a number of critical next steps that are needed to sustain America's edtech infrastructure and insure that this investment helps support student achievement. The report offers a "Sustainability Top Ten List" of reforms necessary for insuring that the nation's edtech investments do not go to waste. The list includes:

  • Accelerating teacher professional development
  • Professionalizing technical support
  • Ensuring all Americans have 21st Century Skills
  • Adopting a new national goal to bridge the home and community digital divides

The report demonstrates that school districts that have implemented successful and sustainable edtech strategies have certain elements in common. "In these districts, for example, educational leaders have articulated a clear vision for technology's role in the classroom," Margaret Honey of CCT noted. "Their schools offer educators professional development that goes beyond basic skill-building, and is available for teachers when it is most relevant and critical to their teaching." The full report presents these and other key building blocks in a "framework for sustainability."

Highlighting survey data in which tech-savvy students said that most of their computer use and learning took place at home, The Sustainability Challenge also points out the growing need for all students to have home Internet access. The report challenges policymakers to embrace the goal that all students on reduced and free lunch subsidies should have access to a computing device and Internet connection at home.

The findings in The Sustainability Challenge were based on fieldwork in three midwestern cities and a series of roundtables held in New York, Chicago and Washington, DC. The project was supported with a generous grant from the Joyce Foundation of Chicago and is the third in a series of reports focusing on federal edtech investments.

Since 1981, the Benton Foundation has worked to realize the social benefits made possible by the public interest use of communications. Through its projects, the nonpartisan organization seeks to shape the emerging communications environment in the public interest. The Benton Foundation is located in Washington, DC.