ConnectED: Learning Powered by Technology

ConnectED: Learning Powered by Technology

President Obama and students with laptops

"[T]oday, we're going to take a new step to make sure that virtually every child in America's classrooms has access to the fastest Internet and the most cutting-edge learning tools. And that step will better prepare our children for the jobs and challenges of the future and it will provide them a surer path into the middle class."

— President Barack Obama, June 6, 2013

The need

A fast-growing world of technologies, and the extraordinary quantity and reach of content on the Internet, have the potential to bring remarkable new possibilities to teaching and learning—helping teachers work smarter and making learning more engaging for students.

New technologies allow students to learn more, at their own pace and irrespective of geography, and to develop the knowledge and skills employers demand. Technology can provide teachers with opportunities to share best practices and personalize learning for students, and it allows parents to engage more deeply and immediately in their children's learning. Yet, despite the great potential of technology to increase access and opportunity, too often, school is the least connected part of a student's life. Additionally, many teachers and principals are not getting the support that they need to use technology in ways that transform student learning.

The goal

A wide range of technological innovations can help teachers make schools into incubators of exploration and invention. Such innovations also can help educators to become collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge while continuously acquiring new skills alongside their students.

All of that is possible when schools have appropriate technology, fast Internet connections, and supports that train educators to use new technologies and allow them to ensure the security and privacy of students' information.

Today, however, less than a third of educators say their school's Internet connection meets their teaching needs. Although 91 percent of teachers have access to computers in their classrooms, less than a quarter say they have the right level of technology. And teachers do not get enough training and support to integrate technology in their classrooms and lessons. President Obama has called for a bold, 5-year effort, with the goal of providing high-speed broadband and wireless to 99 percent of students and improving the skills of teachers—providing every educator in America with support and training to integrate technology into classroom lessons.

The plan

In 2010, the National Educational Technology Plan established a vision for how technology could provide students with access to engaging digital resources, opportunities to collaborate with peers and experts, and powerful tools to solve real problems as an integral part of their learning experience. The plan also aims to ensure that affordable devices are available to support students' digital learning, teachers are prepared to thrive in connected classrooms, and high-quality digital learning resources are available to teachers and students at any time and any place.

Our schools must have modern technology infrastructure and our students must have access to the best resources—regardless of where they live—so that they are prepared to thrive in a globally connected world.

In 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative, which aims to make the vision outlined in the National Educational Technology Plan a reality by ensuring classrooms across the country are connected to high-speed internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) answered the President's call to action, announcing efforts to modernize and expand the E-Rate program to more fully meet the needs of schools and libraries as they connect to high-speed broadband.

In January 2014, the President announced that—with the support of the FCC—America will make a major down-payment on the goals of the National Educational Technology Plan and ConnectED, connecting more than 15,000 schools over the next two years—without adding a dime to the deficit.

And to help educators leverage new technologies and high-speed Internet, the Obama administration has announced the ConnectEDucators program, which would help educators to leverage technology and data to personalize learning and improve instruction, ensuring that—as schools increase access to broadband Internet through the ConnectED initiative—teachers and principals are prepared to use these resources in a way that increases student learning and achievement. This new proposed program would complement the efforts of local school districts to personalize learning through the Race to The Top-District program.

Partnerships

The U.S. Department of Education will work with states and school districts to better use existing funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to strategically invest in professional development for teachers, to help them keep pace with changing technological and professional demands.

The FCC has begun the process to meet ConnectED goals by modernizing its E-Rate program to upgrade broadband speeds and Wi-Fi networks in our nation's schools. As a down payment toward those goals, the FCC will take swift action to secure $2 billion over the next two years that will support high-speed upgrades. This down payment will ensure that up to 20 million more students will have access to 21st century technologies in their schools.

Additionally, commitments from the private sector will allow our nation's teachers and students to take full advantage of high-quality educational software (including applications) and feature-rich educational devices that are increasingly price-competitive with basic textbooks.

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