Meeting of the Board of Regents | September 2007
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council:
Report and Recommendations
September , 2007
1, 2, 5
Issue for Discussion
The USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council (TPPC) has completed a study of the use of technology as it applies to teaching and learning. The Council engaged a research firm to perform a statewide survey of USNY institutions on the use of technology, and to complete a report on the current state of digital networks, digital content for education, and the capacity of USNY institutions and personnel to use digital technology in teaching and learning.
Reason(s) for Consideration
Board of Regents request for policy recommendations for the use of technology in teaching and learning in order to improve student performance.
Dr. Ellen Meier and Dr. Don Jacobs, co-chairs of the TPPC, and David Walsh, Chief Information Officer, will present findings of the study and the recommendations of the Council at the September 2007 Board meeting.
The USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council was established in March 2004. The Council was created to advise the Regents on effective use of technology to achieve Regents goals, particularly in closing the performance gaps in K-12 education; advise on potential policy issues that related to technology; report on the use of technology to improve student performance, train teachers and professionals, provide educational and cultural content, and assist those with disabilities; and map the current technology capacity of USNY institutions.
The Council is comprised of over 25 members from public and private K-16 institutions, BOCES, libraries, museums, public television, teachers’ unions, and community-based organizations.
The Council hired the Metiri Group, a national research firm, to study the use of technology within USNY. Specifically, Metiri was asked to gather data about USNY status in three areas:
Digital Capacity - Assess and analyze current digital educational network capacity across New York State, and describe alternative models for building capacity, infrastructure, and access;
Digital Content - Assess and analyze current digital educational content across New York State and across USNY, and identify approaches to coordinate and distribute digital content to classrooms and homes in New York State; and
Digital Use - Assess and analyze current uses of technologies in teaching and learning across New York State and across USNY, and identify methods to increase effective use of technologies and digital content in teaching and learning.
The Board endorse the attached Executive Summary of the Report and the recommendations of the Council, and charge the Department with implementation of these recommendations.
The USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council is charged by the Board of Regents to provide recommendations on educational technology. As a precursor to developing such recommendations in the area of P-16, the Council commissioned a researcher to develop a baseline report on the current status of technology in teaching and learning across elementary and secondary schools in New York.
After a year of analyzing existing reports, collecting data from a representative sampling of USNY institutions, and visiting schools in metropolitan, urban, and suburban/rural communities, the USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council working with the Metiri Group and its partner, the Consortium for School Networking, now forwards this to the New York State Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education.
The findings indicate that innovative, high-quality use of technology in New York’s K-12 schools is more the exception than the rule. The following eight findings provide policymakers insights into the current state of technology in New York schools and the issues uncovered through this year of investigation.
- The State of New York has not created a collective vision and strategy for how technologies can advance teaching, learning, and leading in the 21st Century. With some notable exceptions, few K-12 teachers or administrators report having a clear understanding of their district or school’s vision and expectations for educational technology in the context of learning, teaching, and leading. The exceptions were in schools and districts where leaders were systematically establishing learning environments in support of policies and practices in educational technology that were aligned to articulated visions.
- There is an opportunity, as yet untapped, for systems thinking and systemic capacity-building within USNY to drive innovative uses of technology in the state’s K-12 schools. Thus there exists tremendous opportunity for new vision, more affordable access, increased digital equity, higher teacher proficiency, and increased readiness of New York schools to use technology in ways that bring higher academic performance and 21st Century learning by students.
- Unlike many other states in the nation, New York does not currently have a state-sponsored broadband network to serve K-12 schools and other USNY systems. While three publicly funded networks (i.e., NYeNET, NYSERNET, and the SUNY network) serve some higher education or government clients and do report having available bandwidth, they currently serve few K-12 school districts or regional offices. Other states (i.e., Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, etc.) do offer statewide telecommunications services. The opportunity for an economy of scale for broadband services to education-related institutions in New York remains untapped.
- Nearly all learning environments and administrative offices in New York schools have high speed Internet connectivity, and the majority of schools report student-to-computer ratios of 5:1 or better. While the former statistic is comparable to most states in the nation, the latter indicates that New York is generally ranked behind peer states in provision of computers for learning (e.g., Ratio of students to high speed internet-ready computers in NY: 4.3:1, FL: 2.3:1, IL 3.9:1, CA: 5.0:1).
- Student use of computers in New York schools, on average, is limited to two or less hours per week, and is focused primarily on drill and practice and online research. The use of these tools for problem solving, critical thinking, student productivity, collaboration, simulations, modeling, and authentic learning is evident in a limited number of schools. In light of the fact that the U.S. ranks only 24th internationally in problem-solving by 15-year-olds, and the recent studies on how the use of computers can significantly increase problem-solving skills, the type and frequency of technology use in New York schools should be taken under review and standards of use raised significantly.
- While most teachers in New York schools consider themselves to be highly skilled in basic uses of technology (e.g., word processors, presentation software, and email), considerably fewer consider themselves proficient in most advanced or web-based skills in using online research, data analysis software, multimedia, the use of new technologies such as white boards and digital tools to access digital content, or the use of Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs, and online networking environments.
- The use of technology for administrative purposes (e.g., data-driven decision making, eCommunication, teacher productivity with technology, online professional development) is gaining momentum due to NCLB requirements.
- USNY has tremendous resources within its institutions that are currently inaccessible to most K-12 students in New York. These resources represent tremendous learning opportunities that could be tapped through systematic digital content research and development projects.
The conceptual framework for the TPPC study is focused on a view of the University of the State of New York as a system of systems, both technologically and organizationally. These findings establish significant gaps between the current state of technology use across the University of the State of New York, and the tremendous possibilities that exist for increased learning through these tools that remain untapped and unrealized by USNY.
USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council
The USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council has brought together committed representatives from the various educating institutions in the State. Over the last two and a half years, the Council has met regularly to create the scope of work for the Council, develop the request for proposals for the research, award the contract, and work with the Metiri Group as they surveyed the state. Metiri’s study focused on the current state of three relevant concerns for USNY institutions across New York State:
- Digital Capacity (infrastructure that supports educational technologies);
- Digital Content (educational objects, materials, video, audio, research, etc. in digital formats to support teaching and learning);
- Digital Use (student, teacher and administrator use and integration of technologies to support teaching and learning across USNY institutions).
The USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council respectfully submits the following eight recommendations based on the findings of the Metiri Group study and the ongoing work of the Council.
The recommendations are offered with a sincere interest in seeing New York State take a leading role in defining and implementing technologies in support of teaching and learning – with a particular focus on helping to close the achievement gap. The State of New York has the potential for envisioning and implementing meaningful use of technology across USNY institutions. We urge action on the following recommendations to realize that potential.
- The report clearly demonstrates that access to, and costs of, high speed telecommunications and the Internet vary widely across New York State. The State Education Department needs to undertake and lead the development of a statewide network that takes advantage of the existing NYSERNet, BOCES, SUNY and other network infrastructure in the State and leverages the size of a statewide network to bring more uniform, broadband capacity and lower costs to schools across the State.
- The State Education Department should consider establishing and publishing acceptable standards and benchmarks for the acquisition, implementation and use of technologies to support teaching and learning. Those standards can provide a model for schools across the state. Further, once published, the standards and benchmarks can help organize local school efforts in their respective technology planning, acquisition and implementation initiatives.
- The State Education Department should consider establishing and publishing standards and expectations for the creation and organization of digital content in all of the State’s museums and cultural organizations for use by the PK-16 community. Further, SED should aggressively explore ways in which federal and state funds can be used to support the development and distribution of cultural organization and museum-based educational content, including audio (via podcasts and other means), video (real time digital streaming as well as traditional public broadcasting), and digital “learning objects” to schools across the State.
- New York State needs to create a shared vision for the use of technologies across the State’s educational community. An emphasis on 21st century skills would promote a deeper understanding and real-world applications of content knowledge. The State Education Department should consider participating in the National Partnership for 21st Century Skills as several other states have done. The standards and approaches published by the National Partnership for 21st Century Skills focus on a learning paradigm that encourages the creation of rich, interactive, authentic learning opportunities to help students build content knowledge. The use and integration of technologies in New York State schools can support both the attainment of core academics as well as the development of:
- Creativity and Innovation Skills
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
- Communication and Collaboration Skills
- Information Literacy
- Media Literacy
- The State Education Department should consider updating the requirements for ongoing professional development of teachers to address the use and integration of technologies in teaching and learning. For instance, SED may wish to consider that a portion of the 175 hour professional development requirement (for teachers for each of five years of service) be devoted to the acquisition of technologies-related skills and experiences. Teachers need ongoing professional development that helps them integrate technology meaningfully in their classroom in ways that address 21st century skills.
- The State Education Department should continue to focus on preparing New York’s future teachers to teach using technology. In addition to updating the technology standards for teacher preparation programs, SED should consider identifying and publishing best practices by teacher preparation programs that emphasize the acquisition of technology-related skills and experiences.
- The State Education Department should consider establishing standards in the use and integration of technologies in teaching and learning for school leadership preparation programs as well as updating requirements for ongoing professional development of school leaders at the district and building-levels. These standards for leaders should also focus on technologies that support the analysis and use of achievement data and other student assessment measures.
- The above recommendations need to be coordinated and implemented with care and leadership from within SED. Therefore, the USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council reaffirms its previous recommendation to create and staff a USNY Office of Instructional Technologies with leadership that reports to senior management of SED.
See www.21stcenturyskills.org/. Other participating states include Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.