AASL Comments on the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan

Submitted by letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Thank you for formulating the National Educational Technology Plan 2010, Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, and soliciting feedback from stakeholder groups.  The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) commends the Department of Education on the plan that presents a shared vision between our organizations on the potential of technology in schools.

While realizing that there is much work to be done in developing a comprehensive and dynamic infrastructure to meet the demands of the National Educational Technology Plan, the certified school librarian through a comprehensive school library program has already begun the process. Library programs currently provide a platform for students to take control of their own learning through a flexible and integrative environment. Finally, the school librarian plays a critical role in facilitating student and faculty understanding of 21st-century literacies - digital literacy, visual literacy, textual literacy, and technological literacy.  AASL suggests that referencing the school librarian’s distinct contributions to the implementation of the National Educational Technology Plan with clear statements embedded into the plan would enable schools to realize and take advantage of skills and facilities already available as well as ensure potentially immediate implementation.

Through AASL, the national school library community developed the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, which addresses many portions of the National Educational Technology Plan.   School libraries that are staffed with certified school librarians interface with the National Educational Technology Plan in the LEARNING goal in the following ways:

School libraries are currently providing resources both in schools and outside of schools through the virtual library portals most school libraries now have.  Our libraries are now 24/7 and allow students to read e-books, listen to downloadable MP3 audio books and materials, reserve print and other resources, and to rate their experiences with those materials.  Our students can access our library electronic databases for research using mobile applications on their cell phones.  The student library patron can now control how and when he/she can access instructional resources to assist with their learning.  School libraries staffed by certified librarians today:

  • Allow virtual access to a variety of instructional materials for students.
  • Actively incorporate Web 2.0 tools, such as podcasts, blogs, RSS feeds, Wordles, and Glogster.
  • Provide technology tools that enable students to interact with the global community.
  • Develop lifelong learning skills by teaching students how to navigate through virtual resources.

School libraries staffed by certified school librarians interface with the National Educational Technology Plan in the ASSESSMENT goal in the following ways:

School librarians provide access to data through their online catalog and circulation systems that assist with decision making for the library collection and meeting student and teacher needs. This data allows school librarians to make informed decisions on how to meet the distinct needs of our increasingly diverse student populations.  School librarians use technology-based classroom performance systems to obtain real-time information about what students understand which allows instant re-teaching of concepts within their time in the library.

  • School librarians teach students how to assess validity and authenticity of electronic resources.  This allows students to draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge
  • School librarians influence and collaborate with teachers in determining how research projects are assessed.   They direct teachers to alternative ways using technology for students to demonstrate mastery.
  • School librarians lead teachers to resources which allow universal access for students who can’t access materials in a traditional format.

School libraries staffed by certified school librarians interface with the National Educational Technology Plan in the TEACHING goal in the following ways:

The dominant theme in the teaching essentials area of the National Educational Technology Plan is collaboration - with the vision of teaching as a team activity complimented by an understanding and ease with technology.  A potential stumbling block for revolutionizing education is the lack of building-level leadership to integrate technical resources in a meaningful manner. The person already in place to facilitate this process is the school librarian whose job is to collaborate with students and teachers. The school librarian is a role model for the kind of teaching the National Educational Technology Plan wants to develop.

  • School librarians work in a multi-media environment that promotes the synthesis of information by incorporating a variety of reading, technological, and digital retrieval skills.
  • School librarians are positioned to collaborate with all members of the staff to integrate digital and print resources and act as a leader in developing digital citizens.
  • School librarians are experienced to work with learners at all levels.
  • School librarians provide instruction for students on the ethical and legal policies and practices relating to technology and digital resources.

School libraries staffed by certified school librarians interface with the National Educational Technology Plan in the INFRASTRUCTURE goal in the following ways:

In the discussion of infrastructure in the National Educational Technology Plan a recurring theme is developing the capacity for the integration of text and digital information. A fundamental component of this capacity is to have people in place to provide leadership and assistance in developing a sophisticated learning environment. Digitally-savvy school librarians are currently modeling this integration of text and a wide variety of digital tools with students and teachers.

  • School librarians are trained as facilitators and are among the first adopters in the educational process to integrate technology into the search process, which engages students meaningfully with information.
  • The school library program is a platform that creates a flexible environment for planned as well as momentarily inspired needs in a supportive and carefully constructed environment.  It is the great equalizer for all learners.
  • While tools for a 21st-century learning model will be easily available in a robust digital environment, the skills for using the tools will be part of the educational growth of the staff members. The school librarian already with those skills is positioned to integrate and expand the digital learning community.
  • School librarians use and promote learning activities that connect the integration of technology to local, state, and national content standards.

School libraries staffed by certified school librarians interface with the National Educational Technology Plan in the PRODUCTIVITY goal in the following ways:

Students are productive when they can personalize their learning.  Technology enables students to progress at their own rate and demonstrate their competencies in unique ways.  Students can potentially synthesize their learning by combining academic disciplines. School librarians facilitate learners’ use of technology to create products that express new ideas.

  • School libraries provide a learning laboratory environment with resources and technological tools for students to learn independently.
  • School librarians use technology to enable and empower learners with diverse backgrounds.
  • School librarians organize special programs and events related to technology.
  • School librarians strive to reduce barriers to constructive use of digital resources.

School librarians are consistently at the forefront in leading the way with technology to enable students to develop the skills needed to be successful in work and in life in the twenty-first century.  We are encouraged by the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 and look forward to being included in it in order to facilitate the school library program’s influence on all learners through technology.

Adopted 05/26/2010