美国新任教育部长治下,“前朝”教育科技项目将成鱼肉?
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编译自:Forecasting the Future of ED’s Office of Educational Technology Under DeVos

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-02-13-forecasting-the-future-of-ed-s-office-of-educational-technology-under-devos

美国新任教育部长贝茨·德沃斯(Betsy DeVos)于2月7日确认当选,当天国会议员托马斯·梅西(Thomas Massie)即发起提案,意在于2018年12月31日“终结”联邦教育部。

撤除教育部当然不是仅靠提案里一句话就能实现,一些法律专家表示此举“故作姿态”大于实际效果。但据此可以看出,不少政客希望砍削教育部门和相关支出,此时就不得不担心前任政府曾经大力支持的那些教育项目了。

在美国联邦教育部,教育技术办公室(OET)是最繁忙的团队之一。在奥巴马政府执政期间,该办公室领导发起了旨在增加学校、图书馆带宽、促进开放教育资源运用的#GoOpen项目, 此外还开展了众多教师培养活动,发布了多项国家教育技术计划,并组织各州、各学区领导进行相关讨论。

不少人表示不希望看到所有这些努力都半途而废。达特茅斯学院数字化学习专家Joshua Kim在公开信中呼吁德沃斯保持“教育部促进高等教育技术生态系统知识分享与合作的重要作用”。投资人Harold Levy声称,相信特朗普政府“会增加革命性的教育技术运用,从而显著改善成百上千万美国儿童的教育”。德沃斯本人也曾表示,技术会在课堂之中发挥作用。

OET未来资金和项目取决于新当选的教育部长以及其他一批新任命的领导。目前,该部门由Joseph Conaty暂作领导。

一直积极参与OET项目的教育人士正密切关注相关动态。#GoOpen项目加州领导人Erin English 表示担心未来教育部是否能够持续提供支持,该州曾将OET教育技术计划奉为典范模式。“希望新任政府会认可这些项目的积极成效,并继续提供资金支持,”她说道。

此外,一位不愿透露姓名的前任教育部官员表示,“如果他们将我们所做的努力看作奥巴马或前任教育部长邓肯的‘事情’,就有可能良莠不分一起抛。”

目前,50多家组织、几十个州的教育部门都参与了OET项目,将这些项目从政治纷扰中剥离可能是使之继续延存的关键所在。

不过,有一件事情或许表明这些项目可以继续。OET当前的#GoOpen项目负责人Kristina Peters上周三在Twitter上发文表示,“感谢德沃斯部长下午莅临教育技术办公室。期待与您携手合作!”

据联邦教育部新闻办公室消息,关于下任OET负责人人选目前尚无官方指示。而那些亲自推行OET项目的工作人员就只能期待好消息了。

Forecasting the Future of ED’s Office of Educational Technology Under DeVos

By Jenny Abamu Feb 13, 2017

It would be rather ironic if, after her contentious confirmation process, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos found herself out of a job. Yet that might be the case if House Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ken.) has his way. On the same day that DeVos won her bitterly contested post, Massie introduced a bill to “terminate” the federal Department of Education (ED) on Dec. 31, 2018.

It will take much more than one sentence in a bill to eliminate the department. (Legal experts say this move is more “posturing” than substance.) Yet many politicians’ desire to slash government offices and spending should raise concern over the fate of initiatives that were well-supported by the previous administration.

Within ED, one of the busiest teams has been the Office of Educational Technology (OET). Under the Obama administration, this office spearheaded efforts around increasing broadband access for schools and libraries, expanding the use of open educational resources through the #GoOpen campaign, and improving teacher preparation programs. It’s issued several national education technology plans and organized gatherings of state and district leaders to share what’s working—and what’s not.

Could all this work go away? Eliminating this office entirely would require Congress to pass a legislative amendment since it was established through a bill.

Many hope that’s not the case. In an open letter, Joshua Kim, a digital learning director at Dartmouth College, encouraged DeVos to continue the department’s “role in helping to create the conditions for knowledge sharing, collaborations, and partnerships across the postsecondary edtech ecosystem.” Harold Levy, an investor and former Chancellor of New York City Schools, believes a Trump administration “could increase the use of revolutionary educational technology (edtech) to dramatically improve instruction for millions of children in America’s schools.” DeVos herself has said that technology can play a role in classrooms.

The future of OET’s funding and initiatives will depend on the new education secretary and a fresh batch of politically appointed directors. Its interim director is Joseph Conaty, a senior career education employee who has been with the department for almost three decades. Until a new director is appointed, Conaty will manage OET’s budget that covers the office’s current work until September 2017.

Educators who are actively involved in OET’s initiatives are watching closely. “There’s a concern I have about the support we get right now from the Department of Education, we have used the edtech plans they created as a model for our district,” says Erin English, who leads #GoOpen in California as the Director of Blended and Online Learning in Vista Unified School District. “I hope that the work being done is seen as positive and the funding continues,” she adds. OET staff members “are my go-to people when I want to make sure I am implementing edtech plans accurately. If they don’t have the answers, they connect me with someone who can help.”

With a new U.S. President that relies heavily on branding and name recognition, it should come as no surprise that the biggest problems initiatives formed under the previous administration could face come from the branding.

Even if the new administration’s edtech priorities align, there’s still the issue of politics—in particular, who gets credit. “If they see our efforts as Obama’s or [former Education Secretary Arne] Duncan’s ‘stuff’ they could throw the baby out with the bathwater,” says a former department official, who requested to remain unnamed.

Getting states to adopt programs branded in a way that associates it with a party or president could be difficult. More than 50 organizations and dozens of state education departments are already involved in OET initiatives, and disassociating these projects from political affiliations may be key to their survival.

So far there’s one sign that these projects may continue. Kristina Peters, an OET fellow currently directing #GoOpen, expressed enthusiasm on Twitter last Wednesday: “Thank you Secretary @BetsyDeVos for stopping by @theOfficeofEdtech this afternoon. We look forward to working with you!”

According to the ED Press Office, there is no official word on who the new OET director will be, in spite of a Politico report that 18 new employees recently joined the department. In the interim, partners leading OET initiatives on the ground can only hope for positive news. “I hope the person coming in really gets to know our schools and the issues we face with our students,” English tells EdSurge. “I don’t want solutions from them right now. I want them to sit down with me and say, ‘tell me about your program and tell me how I can help.’ Because we are doing the work and it’s working.”

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