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Daily Dish: Access to Education Technology (#Edtech) for All Students

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March 25, 2016 01:15 pm

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“What good is technology if teachers and students don’t have access to it?” asks two education technology companies, Chalkup a next-generation learning management system, and Quill, a free literacy tool for middle and high school students, in a piece on Teach Thought. As edtech conversations become more focused on the issue of access, the article takes the perspective of what edtech companies can do to increase digital access and equity across the country.

The article dives in to the issue of access, especially as it relates to broadband, pulling in Pew research showing that 15 percent of American families with income between $30-50,000 a year don’t have access to internet, and data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey showing that “5 million households with school-age children do not have high-speed internet service at home.”

An important distinction is made in the article between access and equity. “Giving everyone access to an awesome edtech tool or going 1:1 with iPads sounds fantastic, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee such equity.”  The piece notes that as edtech expands, it is important that students are not left behind.

“Edtech is rising,” the article notes, “It’s growing and doing more for schools. And we’re genuinely interested in being part of that growth and change. But when we innovate, we don’t want it to be for a select few classrooms. We want it to be for any student who could benefit from what we’re doing. That’s why we we’re listening.”

Several programs are working to ensure that more students have access to internet, both in schools and at home. eSchool News reports on changes to the federal E-rate program, which provides discounted telecommunication services to schools, school districts, and libraries. A program of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), E-rate received a large funding increase in 2014 that allowed the U.S. to expand Wi-Fi access to an additional 43.5 million students, 101,000 schools, and nearly 16,000 libraries. Learn more about the increase and background on the program from the Alliance’s campaign to support the increase back in 2013.

eSchool News shares 7 things you need to know now about E-rate changes, including information about increased funding available, money for infrastructure projects, and deadline information. Read more: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2016/03/25/7-things-you-need-to-know-now-about-e-rate-changes.

Next week, the FCC will vote on modernizing the Lifeline program to provide discounted broadband access for low-income families. Expansion of the program would have the potential to increase learning opportunities for students outside of the classroom. Learn more about Lifeline and also ways that school districts are working to close access gaps at: http://live.digitallearningday.org/access.

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