The right standards adopted at the right time can make an important contribution to technical evolution by applying critical design constraints. – Gordon Bell
The National Technology Leadership Coalition (NTLC) was established by the teacher education associations representing science, mathematics, English, and social studies in concert with the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). This journal, Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, is one of the most tangible results of the coalition. The CITE Journal may be unique in its editorial sponsorship by multiple teacher education associations (click on the About tab at the top of this screen for more information about the sponsor associations).
There are other ways in which the NTLC associations collaborate. Leaders and representatives from coalition associations have an opportunity to convene at an annual gathering, the National Technology Leadership Summit (NTLS). In addition to these leaders, journal editors, federal policy makers, and selected corporate partners also participate.
Goals of the National Technology Leadership Summit
The annual technology leadership summit serves a number of functions. One is to ensure that representatives from different disciplines and associations have an opportunity to become acquainted with diverse perspectives. Under ordinary circumstances, there is no reason that the president of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) and the president of the National Council for the Social Studies College and University Assembly (CUFA) would be in the same room together. Each has separate conferences and professional organizations. NTLS provides a common meeting ground.
The annual technology summit also provides an opportunity to discuss and plan technology strands over the course of the calendar year. The International Society for Technology in Education has been an active participant in the evolution of NTLS. The timing of the summit in early fall makes it possible to plan events for the following spring SITE conference that, in turn, serve as a foundation for further discourse at the summer’s National Educational Computing Conference (NECC). In addition, for several years NTLC has supported and encouraged technology strands at each of the respective teacher educator content associations.
The most recent summit, held at the Library of Congress in September 2004, focused on three themes: one-to-many computing, one-to-one computing, and technology leadership.
A teacher working with a class remains one of the primary modes of teaching. New and emerging technologies offer new opportunities in this area. As a result of technological advances, projection systems recently became much more affordable and are entering classrooms in record numbers. Other technologies ranging from electronic whiteboards (“smart boards”) to electronic polling systems are also being explored in classrooms. As the tipping point for universal access to classroom display technologies approaches, this is an ideal time to consider an appropriate research agenda to identify and document best practices. It is incumbent upon educators, educational researchers, and policy makers to develop a framework for identifying best practices.
One another front, at some point in the foreseeable future the decreasing cost of computing will make it possible for each student to have an individual personal computing device. Initiatives such as Project Inkwell (www.projectinkwell.com) have adopted the objective of providing leadership and defining standards for educational computing devices.
Reports such as the Pew Foundation study, The Digital Disconnect, have underscored the pivotal role of school leadership in ensuring that technological resources are effectively employed. It is clear that in the absence of effective leadership, the current investment in school technology will not result in measurable gains in learning and achievement. It will be even more important to ensure that school leaders are prepared to integrate new and emerging technologies into schools in order to justify future investments.
Participation by editors from several journals focusing on technology in education provides an opportunity to coordinate concepts across publications. At the NTLS a year ago, the editors jointly planned a series of theme issues related to digital images in the curriculum. The potential exists for similar collaboration centered on this year’s themes.
Establishing a Policy Network
The director of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Technology, Susan Patrick, and its deputy director, Tim Magner, participated in this year’s meeting. A benefit of participation by these and other policy makers is that it provides an opportunity to exchange perspectives and views and discuss common interests regarding productive directions.
A meeting with a member of the US House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee was a first at this year’s summit. Janet Swenson, a past president of the NCTE Conference on English Education (CEE), represented CEE at this year’s summit. She described the success in working with Congress to secure support for the National Writing Project. Development of an NTLC legislative network modeled on the success of this effort is now under discussion.
The board of the National Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE) submitted a request to join NTLC. By unanimous endorsement, this request was accepted, and NAECTE is now a full-fledged member of the coalition. In the year to come, we will work out details for addition of a section on early childhood and elementary education to the CITE Journal. If you have a submission in mind related to this area, we would like to hear from you.
The technology committees for the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) have also voted to join the coalition, so the consortium appears to be gathering momentum.
Gordon Bell collaborated on development of the first mini-computers and later chaired the National Science Foundation computing directorate that developed the plan for a National Research and Education Network. Speaking from the perspective of a computing pioneer, he recently noted that technological and educational standards can play an important role in providing a vision for the future.
The National Technology Leadership Coalition offers a mechanism for providing this leadership in teacher education. A teacher education consortium that spans the technology committees of the associations it represents offers an opportunity for meta-analysis and cross-disciplinary dissemination. Ultimately, it can contribute to a vision for effective uses of emerging technologies.
The CITE Journal is one of the more tangible expressions of the coalition. We hope that you will continue to contribute individual descriptions of current best practices through submissions to the “Current Practice” section of the journal. If you are reading this, the chances are that you are also in a position to contribute through participation in the technology committees of your professional associations (go to www.ntls.info for information about coalition members and technology committees in member organizations). We hope that you will participate in this way as well, and communicate with the NTLC representative of your association. This will allow the coalition to provide leadership to chart a constructive course for the future and secure the resources needed to accomplish this goal.