A new U.S. Department of Education National Technology Plan urges educators to use ed tech to enable engaged, hands-on learning and urges states and districts to upgrade training, planning time, and technical support to make it happen, according to Chalkbeat Tennessee.
More than 90% of secondary students and more than 80% of elementary students have access to a personal laptop or tablet — before the pandemic, fewer than half of students had such access, according to surveys. Schools are awash in digital tools yet a recent survey of more than 41,000 students found the main way students used technology in school was to take online tests and quizzes.
Educators need to be aware of that the plan identifies three types of digital divides: 1) an access divide — not all students have laptops or reliable internet; 2) a use divide — some students log into Google Classroom to catch up on assignments while others produce podcasts and design top-notch bat houses; and 3) a design divide — only some teachers have the training, support, and planning time to learn how to use new technology in exciting ways.
Educators must address all three divides to make full use of technological opportunities, the plan said. They also must:
- balance student privacy with responsible oversight
- imbue students with digital literacy
- battle the ills of social media
- adapt to AI
- make smart decisions about which technology to invest in
The plan includes dozens of examples of educators already doing this work, including from rural and high-poverty schools, along with guidelines for decision-making and missteps to avoid.
The plan suggests regular audits of programs teachers actually use. An Associated Press investigation last year found big spending with little evidence it worked. With little regulation, companies have few incentives to prove their product work, according to researchers.