A computing device for every teacher and student so they can access the Internet at school or at home? That, along with an embrace of cloud computing, Creative Commons, and open-source technologies is part of a new set of recommendations from the U.S. Department of Education.

On March 5, the department released an 80-page draft of its National Educational Technology Plan entitled Transforming Education: Learning Powered by Technology. The plan lays out an ambitious agenda for transforming teaching and learning through technology.

Much of the NETP emphasizes "21st Century learning" as the path to transforming education: "engaging and empowering learning experiences for all learners... and leveraging the power of technology to provide personalized learning instead of a one-size-fits all curriculum." The plan seeks to challenge the traditional model of the isolated teacher in a classroom, promoting the idea of "always on" learning resources and online communities for both educators and students.

In addition to changes to the US education model, there are some bold technology recommendations in the plan.

  • Adequate broadband and wireless access inside and outside of school
  • At least one Internet access device for every student and educator inside and outside of school
  • R&D into the use of gaming, simulations, and virtual worlds for instruction and assessment
  • Encouragement of cloud computing for school districts
  • Use of Creative Commons and Open Education licenses
  • Changes to FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) to open access to student data
  • Changes to CIPA (Children's Internet Protection Act) to open access to the Internet and rethink how filtering works in schools

Will Richardson, author of Weblogg-ed, responded: "I think the NETP draft paints a compelling, much more relevant picture of learning than what is happening in most K-12 classrooms today, and in that regard, it's a big step forward. But bringing the plan to fruition, complete with broadband access and 1-1 computing for teachers and students will require a budget and a political will that may not exist right now."

Vicki Davis, author of Cool Cat Teacher Blog is similarly cautious. "It sounds great but implementation is important. I hope truly that they bring the brightest minds together on this," not just politicians and vendors but "practicing educators."

The draft of NETP has a 60-day comment period. What do you think about the NETP? Is there enough willpower and money to make it happen?