When a K-12 administrator asked me to recommend technology leadership resources, first on my list were the Web sites of the Regional Technology in Education Consortia. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the "R-TECs" are located in 10 regions of the country and provide leadership assistance to help K-12 schools, libraries and other educational entities integrate technology successfully. As an R-TEC brochure puts it, "Technology implementation doesn't just happen."
A RANGE OF TECHNOLOGY SERVICES
While each R-TEC is charged with providing technology support tailored to the needs of educators and learners in the region it serves, they all offer four types of services:
1. Guidance in using new technologies to improve teaching and learning, with online tools, products and tested examples
2. Professional development in new technologies, such as training institutes and on-site courses
3. Assistance in creating technology infrastructure, including technical assistance, and information on technology planning and funding sources
4. Information and ideas on effective technology policy, such as online technology forums that provide links between educators and policy makers.
For example, HPR-TEC, the High Plains Regional Technology in Education Consortium-which serves Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming-offers a variety of tools and resources that address the daily difficulties of working with technology in learning environments. These include TrackStar, which makes it easy for teachers to create and use interactive online presentations; www4teachers, where teachers can share classroom struggles and triumphs; www.4kids.org, which provides safe, fun and educational sites for students; RubiStar to create rubrics for project-based learning activities; and the Profiler tool for administrators to assess and track technology expertise in their districts, states and regions. But schools anywhere can use HPR-TEC resources. For example, the school system in Rogers, Ark.-not among the HPR-TEC states-used Profiler, profiler.hprtec.org, to create technology surveys for each school to better plan staff development programs and help teachers improve their skills.
While some administrators may be familiar with specific resources that come from the R-TEC leadership goldmines, the reality is that most educators cannot identify their regional consortium and are unaware that there is a national network of R-TECs, www.rtec.org. Therefore, whether you are researching, implementing or evaluating new technologies in your curriculum, updating technology plans, designing staff development programs, preparing proposals for funding, or seeking advice on technical issues from experts, put the R-TECs first on your list, too.
THE NATIONAL R-TEC NETWORK
Become familiar with the wealth of online resources and services available through your regional consortium, and at all of the other R-TECs listed below:
Northeast & the Islands Regional Technology in Education Consortium, www.neirtec.org
Mid-Atlantic Regional Technology in Education Consortium, www.temple.edu/martec
Appalachian Regional Technology in Education Consortium, www.the-atec.org
SouthEast Initiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium, www.seirtec.org
High Plains Regional Technology in Education Consortium, www.hprtec.org
South Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium, www.southcentralrtec.org
North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium, www.ncrtec.org
Northwest Educational Technology Consortium, www.netc.org
Pacific Regional Technology in Education Consortium, www.prel.org/programs/rtec/rtec.asp
Regional Technology in Education Consortium for the Southwest, www.westedrtec.org
Odvard Egil Dyrli, firstname.lastname@example.org, is senior editor and emeritus professor of education at the University of Connecticut.