ConnectED: Learning Powered by Technology

ConnectED: Learning Powered by Technology

President Obama and students with laptops

“Tec“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, November 19, 2014

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. And while gaps by race and income in student access to technology are narrowing at a national level, disparities persist regarding internet speeds and the number and quality of computers or mobile devices in classrooms, especially those that serve high populations of minority and low-income students. 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.

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 called ConnectED, 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.

Superintendents from across the country also have signed the Future Ready District Pledge. By doing so, they are demonstrating their commitment to work collaboratively with key stakeholders in their communities to set a vision for digital learning and to mentor other district leaders in their own transition to digital learning.

Excellent opportunities also exist for software designers and developers who want to use their talents to create educational tools for teachers, school leaders, students, and their families. The Department’s Office of Educational Technology recently released an Ed Tech Developers Guide to connect developers to the resources they to create scalable impact in education.

In March 2015, President Obama created the Broadband Opportunity Council, which includes 25 federal agencies and departments that are engaging with industry and other stakeholders to examine ways that the Executive Branch can better support the needs of communities seeking broadband investment. The Council is co-chaired by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, and seeks to identify and solve regulatory challenges impeding broadband deployment, adoption, or competition.


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.

Recognizing the important work already being done across all stakeholder groups, the Department has partnered with more than 50 organizations. These partners are dedicated to helping Future Ready Districts access important content related to the Future Ready District Pledge as well as working in concert with these districts to build capacity for transforming teaching and learning through the use of increased Internet connectivity and digital learning resources.

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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