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Online learning featured aspect of federal technology plan

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Goals and recommendations inform state and local technology plans

LANSING – In early March, the United States Department of Education announced the release of Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) 2010. This plan describes how information and communication technologies can help transform American education. It provides concrete goals to inform state and local educational technology plans, and recommendations to inspire research, development and innovation.

The plan states “Just as technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, it is central to implementing the model of 21st-century learning in this plan. “ Online learning is one of the technology vehicles that will drive the NETP plan.

“The National Education Technology Plan provides a compelling argument regarding the need to transform American education using technology. The plan emphasizes the need for productivity gains by rethinking basic assumptions such as seat-time measures of educational attainment. The plan also calls for learning environments that are always on and available to students, educators and administrators regardless of their location of the time of day.” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Michigan Virtual®.

The NETP presents five goals with recommendations for states, districts, the federal government and other stakeholders in our education system that address learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity.

The learning goal advocates the fostering of online communities: “Technology can provide platforms for connecting learners in online communities where they can support each other as they explore and develop deeper understanding of new ideas, share resources, work together beyond the walls of a school or home, and gain access to a much wider pool of expertise, guidance, and support.”

Michigan LearnPort®, Michigan Virtual’s online professional development portal, connects Michigan’s K-12 education community with a variety of tools and resources. Currently, there are more than 55,000 registered users.

To meet the teaching goal the plan recommends the following actions: “Design, develop and adopt technology-based content, resources, and online learning communities that create opportunities for educators to collaborate for more effective teaching, inspire and attract new people into the profession, and encourage our best educators to continue teaching.”

With online learning becoming increasingly important, the NETP says “States, teacher accreditation organizations, colleges of education, and organizations representing online learning providers should work together to develop a set of voluntary national standards for online courses and for online teaching.”

Michigan Virtual also supports this goal through a new program, the Online Teaching and Learning Mastery program, which will be available for the first time this spring. The program offers K-12 teachers the opportunity to use the tools and techniques to teach and create online activities and online courses.

About the Office of Educational Technology
The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology (OET), provides leadership for maximizing technology’s contribution to improving education at all levels. OET develops national educational technology policy and ensures that Department educational technology programs are coordinated and consistent, and support efforts across the federal government.

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About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute®. As a nonprofit organization with more than 20 years of experience, Michigan Virtual is Michigan’s leading voice in online education. Visit us at michiganvirtual.org.

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