Technology for Learning
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed great inequities in student and staff access to technology based on race, income, and zip code. To continue providing a free and appropriate public education in Pennsylvania, both students and educators must have access to high-speed Internet and the appropriate devices and support essential for all learners to succeed.
Prioritize Technology Staff in Schools
School districts should prioritize the hiring of IT support staff to ensure that all students, teachers, administrators, and staff have access to and are proficient users of technology. In addition, technology should be seamlessly integrated and routinely and effectively used in classrooms.
Maintenance and support for devices must also be adequately provided to ensure that devices function properly and reliably. Quality IT and technical support for devices and other technologies should be available in every school. It’s important to make sure the instructional support role of paraprofessionals is distinct from that of providing maintenance and technical support for devices and Internet access.
Particular attention should be given to schools located in urban areas, where maintenance and technical support are less likely to be provided.
Provide Technology Coaches
As a way to tackle learning loss, maximize student learning, and improve teacher effectiveness with technology integration, technology coaches should be available to help to bridge the gap between the classroom teachers and the IT technical support. Technology coaches can help to ensure that technology is used purposely and to empower learners to their maximum potential. Virtual and cyber learning will continue to exist even as the pandemic eases, and technology coaches can help to enhance curriculum to mitigate learning loss.
Deliver Appropriate Technology Curriculum for Students
While most students no longer need to be taught how to use a mouse or a keyboard, they do need to be taught how to use the Internet properly, including ways to avoid bullying, appropriate digital etiquette, and rights and responsibilities on the Internet. We should provide supports and the resources for school districts and technology to create their own curriculums in these imperative areas.
Offer Technology Professional Development for Educators
To make new and experienced teachers more comfortable with classroom technology integration, continual, job-embedded, high-quality professional development needs to be made available for all PA educators. Technological professional learning should be focused on effective pedagogy and application to instruction.
Schools need the resources to offer skills-based and curriculum-integrated professional development opportunities, collaborative initiatives, and the programs and tools that are up-to-date and relevant for a 21st century teaching and learning environment.
The Bottom Line
We must work to reduce barriers so that all households have access to high-speed Internet and schools that are able to provide one-to-one devices for all students. All local school districts must be able to provide every student the access and tools so imperative for success in digital age of today, and every educator must be provided the high-quality professional development opportunities necessary to ensure that every student, regardless of their zip code, has the technology and access needed to thrive and flourish in the digital world of today and the one ahead of us tomorrow.
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