Key Takeaways From the New NETP

January 11, 2016 Jonathan E. Martin

It’s here!    The new 2016 NETP-National Educational Technology Plan— has arrived online, and though written by the Federal Government primarily for public education leaders, it is nevertheless an enormously valuable resource for all forward-looking school administrators, from the Tech Director to the Head to the Academic Deans and others.

The previous plan, published in 2010, was breathtaking in its vision, its pertinence, and its applicability.   Coming from the exciting US DOE EdTech Director Karen Cator, who had come into the Obama administration from Apple with an extraordinary energy and ambition to transform learning using tech the right way, the 2010 plan spoke with clarity and inspired a great deal of important progress.   It called for empowering students, opening new opportunities for them to explore, create, and connect, a startling and invigorating change from the Bush era attitude that we need to “lock down” machines and cordon off student participation online.  (I wrote about the 2010 plan here)

The 2010 was advanced but not entirely effectively implemented.  EdSurge has a nice report card for that plan, grading its five main goals with grades ranging from one (slow pace) to three (fast pace), with the best progress noted in infrastructure access.

It’s hard to say the 2016 plan is as striking or as original as the 2010 plan—this new one represents far more a continuation of its predecessor than a redirection.   But it is interesting still.   Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Everyone should have an internet accessing device. No exceptions. This seems a bold pronouncement, and certainly something every private school leader should reflect upon.  “Ensure that every student and educator has at least one Internet access device and appropriate software and resources for research, communication, multimedia content creation, and collaboration for use in and out of school.

  • Beware BYOD. Myself, I’ve been a BYOD proponent, and managed a BYOD program for several years. It’s interesting to see the caution here. “Although it is certainly reasonable to allow students to learn and communicate using their own devices, serious concerns arise if schools use BYOD as their primary method for ensuring students have devices, including economic disparity, instructional burden, and privacy/security.”

  • Commit vigorously to OER/OLER. The term chosen throughout is new to me, open licensed education resources, but the message is clear: these affordable, adaptable, continuously improving resources are the future.

  • Move from AUP’s to RUP: Responsible use. “RUPs should be written in plain language that is easily accessible to students, parents, and district personnel. If policies and procedures for the use of devices are too strict, they often have unintended negative consequences, such as preventing access to legitimate educational resources; see Rethinking Acceptable Use Policies to Enable Learning: A Guide for School Districts.

Leadership at every level is essential to ensuring that technology transforms, rather than deforms or distracts, learning.   As the new NETP says, “Leaders who believe they can delegate the articulation of a vision for how technology can support their learning goals to a chief information officer or chief technology officer fundamentally misunderstand how technology can impact learning.”

What does this leadership consist of according to the NETP?

  • Effective, skillful, collaboration with all constituencies.

  • An understanding and pursuit of personalized learning for every student—and likewise for personalized professional learning for every adult in your building.

  • And a commitment to ensuring a robust infrastructure is in place.

“Leaders are responsible for meeting these challenges and ensuring ubiquitous access among administrators, teachers, and students to connectivity and devices and for supporting personnel to ensure equipment is well maintained.”

Education leaders of all kind would be well advised to check out a new series of videos accompanying the NETP, at a site called “Personalized Professional Learning for Future Ready Leaders,” which provides “a systematic review of research and a personalized playlist for district leaders generated from 50 short, high production quality videos.” What’s great, and very much to their credit, is that the platform, which emphasizes personalized learning for kids and adults, is itself personalized: when there, you take first a quick quiz, and then receive a playlist “profiling exemplary practices selected just for you.”  Taking the self-assessment myself was fascinating and extremely illuminating about high priority leading practices; my own playlist begins with a video on Leadership Actions to Support Pedagogical Change.”

About the Author

Jonathan E. Martin

Jonathan E. Martin has 15 years experience as a Head of School, and eight years as a teacher, at three independent schools in California and Arizona. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MA in School Administration from the University of San Francisco; in 2008 he was a Visiting Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University. An expert on 21st century learning and assessment, he has presented to school-leaders, teachers, and trustees at more than eighty conferences and schools since 2010. He writes widely and consults to schools nationally on innovative instruction, 21st century educational program design, educational leadership, and next-generation assessment. Jonathan is also a Blackbaud K-12 expert and you can find him online at and on Twitter @JonathanEMartin.

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