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UT seeks millions for classroom tech

$30 million sought for initiative to increase access to tech in classrooms and train teachers.
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Utah legislators went shopping last week in order to spend money on boosting the state's ranking when it comes to access to technology in the classroom, reports the Deseret News.

Senate and House education subcommittees met at Audio Enhancement in Bluffdale, UT, to hear presentations from half a dozen software vendors in an effort to get an idea of what programs were out there and available for schools.

"We do have a lot of technology in schools but it is mostly in labs — that means only about 30 minutes to an hour once a week," said Rick Gaisford, education technology specialist for the State Office of Education. "We want to see more technology at the point of instruction and that is in the classroom."

The committee is asking for $30 million to fund the new 21st Century Teaching and Learning Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase access to technology in classrooms, provide professional development for teachers so that they can effectively use those tools and provide adequate technical support to keep systems running, Gaisford said.

Vendors showed legislators software designed for reading, math, limited English proficient students and software that gives students an opportunity for quasi-one-on-one instruction.

"The purpose was we wanted to give the legislators a glimpse of the capabilities that exist out there and the tools that are available for teachers to change the learning environment — to enlighten them that these tools can make a difference," said Jim Snyder, vice president for Audio Enhancement, who hosted the meeting.

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