Sunday, February 24, 2008

Where's the accountability?

This past week, I led a full-day seminar on technology auditing (seminar title: Technology Audits Made Easy (TAME)) for several school districts.  As introductory information, I displayed charts that showed Federal funding levels for educational technology for the past 5-6 years.  

Then, I showed similar charts for Federal funds that came to their State.

Naturally, they were amazed.  

But, my question to them was, "Yes, but what do you know about how these funds are being used?"

As you might suspect, nobody had answers.  

The reality?  Accountability for ed tech funds going to schools in the US is, for all practical purposes, nonexistent! 

Does that fact bother you?  Does it cause you to remember that all these federal funds going to schools are actually YOUR money??

Just to emphasize the point, ponder this:

Federal $$ for EETT & E-Rate 2002-2006 = $14,021,625,084.93
Average per year = $2,804,325,016.99

This means that U.S. schools have received, on average, almost $3 Billion each year since 2002, yet we have almost no attention paid to accountability.  Amazing!

  • What were these funds used for?  
  • Who received the money?  
  • What is the ROI (Return on Investment) for our tax dollars that have been provided to support and promote educational technologies? 
  • Who is keeping track of these data?  
  • Where are the records?  
  • Is there any guarantee that current success with the money will yield future investments? 
  • Was the distribution of these funds reasonably equal?

So, what do you  think?

Am I overreacting?  Or, am I simply making the point for all of us who want to ensure that our tax dollars are being used properly?

I know this is only one aspect of accountability, but it is one!

Leave your comments here.  What do you think?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ed Tech 2008

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being a featured speaker at Ed Tech 2008 in Ashland, VA.  The conference was held at Randolph-Mason College and was co-sponsored by the Virginia Commonwealth Public Broadcasting.

Several hundred eager educators attended this conference that is now in its 21st year.  What a terrific group of people these are -- and so imaginative, creative, and willing to strive for perfection in their classrooms.

My presentation was one of four in a series specifically for administrators.  The overall topic was "21st Century Learning."  Dr. Sara Armstrong led off in the first session by educating all of us about the various models of 21st Century Skills proposed by the: Partnership for 21st Century Skills; Metiri Group; and ISTE NETS•S (International Society for Technology in Education National Education Technology Standards • Students).

Following Dr. Armstrong, a collection of grass-roots educators at ITRTs (Instructional Technology Resource Teachers) from the Goochland, Powhatan, and Henrico County districts showed us working solutions from their schools.  This was an amazing presentation, delivered by fantastic young educators.  I was immensely impressed!

Following lunch and the conference keynote by Dr. Armstrong, I delivered my 50-minute session, 21st Century Learning: Practical, Proven Strategies for Implementation, as requested by conference organizers.  The time just FLEW!  Before I knew it, it was time to wrap up.  Attendees gave excellent suggestions and examples of implementing technologies to enhance these skills.

Now, my hope is that they will allow me to return next year in 2009!