Highlights from the 2016 National Education Technology Plan

Highlights from the 2016 National Education Technology Plan

Since the 2010 national technology plan was released, the conversation has shifted from whether technology should be used in schools to how to improve learning so that all students have access to learning powered by technology. This new 2016 report, Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education, is comprehensive and rich in in examples and best practices. The opening quote from former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan highlights one of the greatest challenges facing educational technology:

“If the technology revolution only happens for families that already have money and education, then it’s not really a revolution.”

The report describes itself as a:

  • Call to action
  • A vision for learning enabled by technology
  • Collection of recommendations and real-world examples

Some of the Challenges

One of the largest issues is that a digital use divide still exists between learners who use technology in active and creative ways and those who use technology for consuming content passively. The graphic below illustrates these very different experiences.


We also know that neither teacher preparation programs nor professional development are adequately preparing teachers to use technology effectively with students.

Technology is helping the student assessment process, but we still are not using technology to measure a broad range of educational outcomes. This includes the development of both cognitive and non-cognitive skills. The non-cognitive skills are also referred to as social/emotional learning. They include self-awareness and management, social awareness, perseverance, motivation, and growth mindsets.

How Technology Improves Learning

Here are five ways the report suggests that technology improves and enhances learning:

  1. Technology can enable personalized learning or experiences that are more engaging and relevant.
  2. Technology can help organize learning around real-world challenges and project-based learning using a wide variety of digital learning devices and resources to show competency with complex concepts and content.
  3. Technology can help learning move beyond the classroom and take advantage of learning opportunities available in museums, libraries, and other out-of-school settings.
  4. Technology can help learners pursue passions and personal interests.
  5. Technology access when equitable can help close the digital divide and make transformative learning opportunities available to all learners.

Opportunities for Education Marketers

The primary shift from “whether” technology can affect learning to helping educators learn “how” to use technology offer market opportunities:

  1. Help eliminate the gaps between the technology haves and the have-nots.
  2. Include more non-cognitive skill development in curriculum and supplementary learning materials.
  3. Help redesign learning spaces that incorporate the changing relationships between students, teachers, peers, and mentors.
  4. Develop better professional development programs that help teachers use learning technology effectively.


The report contains an enormous amount of research and experience. It summarizes our education technology journey to date and recommends our direction for the future:

Although the presence of technology does not ensure equity and accessibility in learning, it has the power to lower barriers to both in ways previously impossible. No matter their perceived abilities or geographic locations, all learners can access resources, experiences, planning tools, and information that can set them on a path to acquiring expertise unimaginable a generation ago. (80)