NEWS DAY | Tools in schools

Computers, wi fi, the internet — our schools are lagging far behind what they need in these tools for 21st century life and education. A series of articles from the Hechinger Report outline where we are falling short.

The Promise: Digital education is supposed to transform public education, but many schools can’t even get online

“With a computer — or a laptop, or tablet, or even a smart phone — in every student and every teacher’s hand, the idea is that school will be better tailored to students’ needs and also better able to prepare them for the sorts of high-skilled, technology-centric jobs that will dominate in the future. It could even help close the achievement gap for disadvantaged students.”

Now that standardized testing is moving online, schools will need even more computers and faster broadband. We need to fund schools’ technology needs, or risk having city schools fall farther behind more affluent suburbs.

The Problem: Instead of getting ready for the tech revolution, schools are scaling back

“For schools that haven’t yet made technology an integral part of every student’s school day and every teacher’s lesson planning, the problem is often basic: Their Internet connection is too weak and their laptops (if they even have them) are too old to handle whole classrooms of students spending most or even part of their day online.”

Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education said the challenge is like moving from a two-lane road to an eight-lane superhighway. It’s an apt metaphor: slowing computer speeds handicaps students and teachers.

And that’s just the situation inside the schools. Students who can’t connect at home fall further and further behind, unable to connect for research or to access online tools and learning aids. For students whose parents can’t afford home computers and broadband, educational technology widens the achievement gap, rather than closing it.

The Solution: How can schools close the technology gap and how much will it cost?

“For the districts most in need – high-poverty urban and rural districts – catching up will likely require significant help from the federal government because their budgets tend to rely more on federal funding than on state aid and local property taxes. But given the strain on school budgets in recent years, experts say middle-income districts also need help to reach federal goals for Internet speed and the deployment of computers.”

Want to know more? Click on the links above for the three stories I found most useful, or go to the Hechinger Report Digital Divide main page for even more.

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    Mary Turck's picture
    Mary Turck

    Mary Turck (maryturck [at] gmail [dot] com) is a freelance writer, editor, teacher, and lifelong activist, and former editor of the TC Daily Planet.