While I’m sure many of you have been trolling over the various funding programs that make up the education stimulus bill, I think there are two programs that should be worth investigating further, as they could become invaluable catalysts towards systemic change in our education system if implemented appropriately.
1. The National Center for Research in Advanced Infomation and Digital Technologies: this is something that should be applauded and utilized to maximum effect. My understanding is that the FY 2010 budget is miniscule and this MUST be amended. It seems that 2010 funding is primarly towards launching the center. The mandate is “to support a comprehensive research and development program to harnes the increasing capability of advanced informatino and digital technologies to improve all levels of learning and education, formal and informal, in order to provide Americans with the knowledge and skills needed to compete in teh global economy.” My close friends, Henry Kelly and Michelle Fox (formerly at the Federation of American Scientists), were instrumental in developing the managemetn plan and research “road map” for the facility. Two of the immersive learning environments, Discover Babylon and Immune Attack, were developed by FAS under their watch. This could be a very, very influential funding vehicle of utilized to maximum effect. At present, my only concern is that the commitee formed to oversee its implementation is the right mix of leaders, and should come from both traditional and digital backgrounds.
2. The Investing in Innovation Fund: this $650M fund that is part of the education stimulus bill where districts can partner with the private sector. So long as the project meets the key criteria earmarked by the progrsm and is 20% matched by the private sector, it can go a long way towards creating a number of local “research pods” for innovative product ideas. I suggest that all school districts and startup companies in the area of Ed Tech to thoroughly review this program. All funding will be allocated by September 30, 2010 so move quickly!