3 Ways to Speed Up Education Technology Policy Changes

Richard Culatta

Education technology policy may not change at the speed of light. But it can change faster if policymakers work through regulatory options, act on data and keep abreast of what’s going on with technology.

That said, making changes faster doesn’t solve the problem. Instead, the right changes need to happen faster, said Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education.

He shared his thoughts on policy changes along with others at the Tech in Policy Briefing put on by The Hill on Wednesday, July 23.

1. Work through regulatory options

By taking advantage of regulatory options, policymakers can advance policy changes, Culatta said. For example, the Education Department required grant applicants to take specific actions such as installing student data systems and raising student standards and assessments in the inaugural Race to the Top competition. Many of the departments’ grants tie education technology policy changes to funding, a powerful incentive to change for many states and schools.

2. Encourage open standards

Along with regulatory options, open technology standards are also an important step.

“Standards are like toothbrushes,” Culatta said. “Everyone thinks they’re a good idea, but no one wants to use someone else’s.”

Education data is one area where open standards could help. The Education Department incentivized the education field to act on data and build tools that help students make informed choices about where to go to college, such as the College Navigator.

3. Learn about recent technology innovations

Because technology changes so rapidly, it’s often hard to keep up with. But taking the time to do homework on what’s going on in the education technology field will pay off in the long run for policymakers.

Innovative technology and disruptive models will tell policymakers what could happen over the next five to 15 years so they can be prepared to tackle these issues when they come up, said Donna Harris, co-founder of 1776, a major initiative that convenes and accelerates startups from around the world. She suggested that policymakers engage with entrepreneurs, and mentioned that more than 5,000 startups are working to improve a regulatory industry, with many of them doing business in the education sector.

Understanding new tools and disruptive models will bring policymakers to a place where they can pass the right sets of guidelines, said Liz Simon, director of public policy and associate general counsel at General Assembly, a global network of campuses for technology, business and design. By taking a proactive interest in learning about current innovations, policymakers can keep up with what’s happening and make more informed decisions.

The article by Tanya Roscorla was originally posted on the Center for Digital Education at http://www.centerdigitaled.com/news/3-Ways-to-Speed-Up-Education-Technology-Policy-Changes.html

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