Jacobs to Co-Chair State's Technology Policy and Practices Council

Release Date: March 25, 2004

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Donald J. Jacobs, founder and director of Center for Applied Technologies in Education at the University at Buffalo and chair of the education policy group Education Innovation Consortium, has been appointed to co-chair the University of the State of New York (USNY) Technology Policy and Practices Council.

USNY comprises the five areas of public education in New York State: elementary, middle, secondary and continuing education; higher education; Office of Cultural Education (including Public Television); Office of the Profession, and Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities.

The council was established by the Board of Regents in 2001 and charged with mapping the technology assets of USNY institutions and recommending strategies for using those assets to accelerate closing the performance gap in student achievement.

"The largest educational challenge we face in this state, and indeed across the country, is in closing the achievement gap in K-16 education," Jacobs said. "The USNY Technology Policy Council will provide an opportunity for us to identify the numerous ways that technologies are currently used to support education and identify ways to bring greater collaborative USNY technology resources to issues like closing the achievement gap."

The USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council will report directly to New York State Regent Robert Johnson and the other members of the Board of Regents.

"The reason for this initiative is very simple," Johnson said. "I do not believe that we can close the performance gap and provide acceptable levels of instruction to all students, especially those who live in urban and rural areas, without leveraging technology to make high-level instruction available to all. We never will have enough qualified math, science, ESL and foreign language instructors to provide on-site, in the classroom instruction at current salaries and it is unreasonable to believe that the finances of education are going to change that paradigm.

"Therefore, education must do what industry has done -- use technology to vastly improve productivity – to extend the reach of our best teachers so that they can help more kids without significantly increasing cost. USNY already spends enough on technology to make this vision a reality -- if only we intelligently use the assets we already have in place. The goal of this Council is to figure out a way to harness those USNY resources, leverage existing technology, fill in whatever gaps exist and get the job done."

Robert Bennett, chancellor of the Board of Regents, added: "As we were discussing the need for establishing the USNY Technology Policy Group for the Board of Regents, we knew that the field was rich in talent and experience. Having seen and used the work of Don Jacobs, it gives me great comfort and confidence that the board will receive excellent, state-of-the-art advice and guidance for this critical 21st-century policy making.

"Don understands USNY, the classroom teacher, the student, the parent and the administrators' perspectives and needs in applying technology to advance learning. An international advisor to school systems around the world, we are fortunate to have his and the University at Buffalo's resources to guide and modernize the benefits of applied technology."

Ellen Meier of Columbia Teachers College Center for Technology and School Change, also co-chair of the council, said it "represents an exciting opportunity to examine existing technology policy and practice, and make recommendations for the creative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning for New York teachers and students."

Jacobs is a resident of Grand Island.

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