Teachers in rural areas, who have been trained to use a variety of tools and technologies to communicate with students, may be better equipped to teach computer-based learning.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the new guidance Tuesday.
She said the agency would spend $50 million to hire a team of educators to help teachers teach students to use technology, such as tablets, phones and social media, and will invest $10 million in a school-based curriculum that will include online and on-site learning, with a focus on technology.
DeVos also ordered an assessment of teacher performance on the technology in schools and made an appointment with the chair of the National Commission on Teaching and Technology, a nonprofit that supports education reform, to make recommendations.
“We have a tremendous need for better teachers who understand what is going on and can apply it to the classroom,” DeVos said.
“That’s why we need to create new and different kinds of teacher training programs.
We can’t just focus on computer training for teachers anymore.
It’s not working.”
The new training program will focus on how teachers use social media and technology, including using technology to help students complete assignments, organize homework, track and measure student progress and communicate.
Teachers in rural and small-town districts will be the first to receive the new training.
A study released in February by the National Center for Education Statistics found that fewer than half of states have at least one teacher trained to teach children on computers.
The report said about two-thirds of teachers in states with at least 30,000 students are not computer trained.
In addition to the $50 billion for teacher training, DeVos said the government would spend up to $25 billion over the next five years to invest in technology-related education initiatives, including $10 billion to create the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Technology-Based Learning and Education.
The program would also help teachers build more flexible learning environments, expand and strengthen curriculums, and strengthen relationships with parents and students.
“The stakes are really high in this country when we have to teach kids the new realities of technology,” DeVos told reporters.
“We cannot afford to lose our ability to provide an important tool to help them communicate with each other and learn.”
The Department of Education’s new education secretary says we need more teachers who can teach computer instead of pen.
https://t.co/KpVfj7kPj2 pic.twitter.com/bVp5qZvhgT — PBS NewsHour (@PBSNewsHour) April 24, 2021While the federal government has been funding teacher training since the 1970s, the federal agency overseeing teacher education has been struggling to recruit teachers.
The National Center on Education Statistics reported that more than 70 percent of teachers nationwide do not have a computer in their classroom, compared to only 43 percent of public school teachers.
The study also found that about 50 percent of high school teachers do not own a computer, compared with only 37 percent of elementary school teachers and 22 percent of middle school teachers, and less than 25 percent of school-age students.
The new program will allow the Education Department to expand teacher training beyond traditional classroom use, which has been limited in part because many districts have not created their own teacher training standards.
DeVos’ budget would also allocate more money for computer-related research, including the establishment of the Center for Research in Teaching Technology.