ConnectEDucators: Leveraging Technology in the Classroom

ConnectEDucators: Leveraging Technology in the Classroom

President Obama and students with laptops

"Technology is not a silver bullet. It's only as good as the teachers ... using it as one more tool to help inspire, and teach, and work through problems."

— President Barack Obama, February 4, 2014

Technology offers extraordinary new capacities to teachers. The vast breadth and depth of educational materials and other information available on the Internet can break boundaries, making any subject accessible anywhere. And new technologies give teachers innovative tools and flexibility to engage students and work smarter. President Obama's ConnectED initiative will provide high-speed Internet to every school in America, and will help to make affordable computers, tablets, software, and other digital resources widely available. Yet these capacities offer their greatest benefits to students only when teachers and principals have the skills and supports to leverage them. The ConnectEDucators plan will help educators grow those skills.

The need

According to a 2013 survey, about three-quarters of teachers are seeing benefits from educational technology for students, which range from motivating students to responding to a variety of student learning styles.

About two-thirds of teachers surveyed said that educational technology allows them to "do much more than ever before" for their students, allowing educators to demonstrate something they could not show in any other way. Yet as technology changes rapidly, teachers need support in adapting their practice, and school principals need support to help teachers use technology. There is a massive unmet need in both of these areas.

According to another recent survey, almost one third of teachers said that the greatest obstacle to using technology in their classroom was their need for professional development; only 8 percent of classroom teachers describe themselves as self-sufficient with professional development in this area. ConnectEDucators will help teachers master new technology and harness it to benefit students—while protecting student security and privacy online.

Teachers' access to tech

The goal

President Obama wants to want to make sure our young people have the same competitive advantages as students in other countries. He wants to ensure that teachers and leaders in all of America's schools receive the support and professional development they need to select and use technology to improve student outcomes.

The plan

The ConnectEDucators program would help educators leverage technology and data to personalize learning and improve college- and career-ready instruction, ensuring that as schools increase access to broadband Internet through the ConnectED Initiative, teachers and leaders are prepared to use these resources in a way that increases student learning and achievement.

Funds would support educators in delivering high-quality, open digital learning resources and content; using a wide range of devices and digital tools, including those related to new assessments; using real-time data to personalize learning; using technology to increase engagement with families and other teachers; and offering greater access to effective teachers by providing teachers in rural areas or specialized subjects with coaching in other localities and/or by providing online advanced or hard-to-staff course offerings to students whose own schools cannot provide them.

The President's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal

The Obama administration's budget requests $200 million for ConnectEDucators.

The program would provide:

  • Formula-based State Leadership Grants to help enhance state and local capacity to support the transition to digital learning.
  • Competitive, 3-year grants to school districts to support the implementation of comprehensive plans to ensure that educators have the skills and supports needed to dramatically improve student access to high-quality instruction aligned with college- and career-ready standards.

The U.S. Department of Education will prioritize applicants that partner with other districts or with local or national organizations, and will fund activities that result in making digital materials open-source and publicly available.

The Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative includes an additional $300 million for ConnectEDucators, providing a total of 100,000 teachers in 500 districts with access to professional development to take greater advantage of the high-speed broadband and wireless provided through the ConnectED initiative.

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