School districts across the country are tapping into grant programs to buy or upgrade educational technologies to enhance the quality of education provided to students.
Impact of Tech
A recent survey of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers revealed the latest digital technologies are helping educators prepare students for academically. Unfortunately, the role of technology is more significant in wealthier schools and classrooms led by tech-savvy teachers.
According to the Pew Research Center’s report, the internet has a major impact on teachers’ ability to:
- Access content, resources and materials for class (92 percent)
- Share ideas with other teachers (69 percent )
- Interact with parents (67 percent)
- Interact with students (57 percent)
Furthermore, more devices are being deployed in the classroom to complete assignments:
- 73 percent report students using mobile phones
- 45 percent report students using e-readers
- 43 percent report students using tablet computers
Unfortunately, only 18 percent of teachers believe their students have sufficient access to digital tools when they are at home, making it difficult to complete assignments out of class. Teachers also note that the technology gap is widening between low-income and affluent school districts:
- 84 percent of teachers agree that digital technologies are leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged school districts
- However, 44 percent of teachers believe technology Is narrowing the gap of student academic success rates, while 56 percent believe it is widening the gap
Therefore, schools are seeking outside funding to support investment in and upgrades to digital technologies in the classroom.
Fourteen Massachusetts school districts will receive grants for technology infrastructure to enhance digital learning. A total of $5 million grants will be allocated to 47 schools across the state, which will directly impact 25,000 students.
The statewide initiative is designed to close the digital gap between low-income and more affluent school districts so every student is offered a high-quality education. The $5 million in technology grants will be funded by a technology bond bill and distributed through the Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grant program that focuses on increasing access to broadband and other digital solutions.
In Briarcliff, New York, a school district will be awarded a $70,000 state grant to help launch the Briarcliff 2.0 initiative. The goal of the project is to leverage digital devices to individualize learning both in the classroom and at home. The school will purchase new laptops and tablets for students to encourage more creative collaboration during critical thinking lessons.
To enable more project-based curriculum, Briarcliff 2.0 calls for all students in grades 4 through 12 to receive their own tablet or laptop computer over a three year period. The strategy also includes targeted, high-quality teacher skills development to ensure instructors can facilitate proper utilization of the technologies.
Three school divisions in Virginia have been announced the recipients of a $3 million Invest in Innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant funding will be used to support classroom activities that develop design, research and production skills in students. The school consortium offers project-based learning to help students acquire analytical thinking and teamwork skills to prepare them for future careers.
The winning schools participate in the Laboratory Schools for Advanced Manufacturing program that teachers students engineering concepts to prepare them for careers in science and technology. The goal of the grant is to fuel such programs that are designed to create future workers that meet the needs of local employers, Charlottesville Tomorrow reported.