The world invests in edtech, while the US fiddles

As Congress considers dismantling the nation's largest source of funding for technology to schools, other countries are pouring money into tech programs to prepare students for life in the global economy.

As Congress considers dismantling the nation's largest source of funding for technology to schools, other countries are pouring money into tech programs to prepare students for life in the global economy, reports eSchool News.

Countries such as Britain and Mexico have poured resources into their tech programs, aiming to bolster edtech infrastructure in every classroom. Mexico instituted an ambitious plan called Enciclomedia (Spanish), which equips each fifth and sixth grader with a computer, an interactive whiteboard, a printer, and a projector to run a national K-12 education curriculum.

"The [adapted] textbook is linked to a 40-gigabyte exhaustive [series of] databases and other sources. Instructors can pull examples, streaming video and audio, and [can] give students exercises. The text will [discuss] a particular musical instrument, and the instructor can play the sound of the music it plays. The curriculum will be placed in about 155,000 classrooms by November," commented Vivek Thakur, director of emerging markets at Texas Instruments, the company whose Digital Light Processing (DLP) video projection technology reportedly is used in more than 90 percent of the projectors sold to the Mexican government.

The British government has instituted Building Schools for the Future. Program goals are that every secondary school can be refurbished or rebuilt with leading-edge technology and state-of-the-art learning in every classroom by 2015. They intend to install an interactive white board in every classroom. Along with investing in hardware, they have budgeted 2 to 3 billion pounds ($3.6 to $5.4 billion) for professional development designed to make educators "digitally confident," according to the Consortium for School Networking.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration's Enhancing Education Through Technology block grant program, the largest source of technology-specific funding for schools in the federal budget is on the chopping block. Education officials have claimed that billions of dollars have been allotted for technology in schools and any additional funding needed can be found from government and /or private grants. This announcement comes after slashing the EETT program, the primary means by which many schools fund innovative classroom and administrative technologies. One thng is clear - some districts recieve more funding than others, leaving technology in some schools sorely lacking.

"There is much to learn from the edtech decisions being made by other countries," said Al Zeisler, president of the edtech consulting firm Integrated Technology Education Group

"Some of the results of their decisions will be positive, and we should consider adapting these programs to our schools, and others will clearly prove to be of no added value and should be quickly discarded. The successful use of educational technology must recognize the need for uninterrupted, long-term financial support."

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