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Provide Access to Technology and Support

Technology use and implementation, whether inside the wall of the school building or through online learning opportunities, requires continuous support and a systemic process through which teachers and students can access assistance when experiencing technical difficulties with the technology. If teachers and students are frustrated, technology is less likely to be regularly implemented and, therefore, will not contribute to student improvement.

Research to Practice

A reliable network infrastructure is essential in any digital environment. Technology options that are not reliable, or that are difficult to use, can lead to frustration among teachers and lack of use with students. In contrast, when teachers, students, and parents can access an instructional network anytime/ anywhere, using technology to enhance instruction increases student engagement and communication and simplifies information sharing. To maximize the usefulness of technology, digital materials and resources must be available wherever print materials are currently being used—at school, home, grandma’s house, the park, the orthodontist’s office, and so on. Full access to digital resources can lengthen the school day, and more time leads to better results.

Action Steps

Complete a technology assessment and make key decisions

  • Update (or if necessary, overhaul) your connectivity plans.
  • Fully understand the financial and physical network requirements needed to handle the amount and types of usage anticipated.
  • Determine when and how to support student-owned devices, including cell phones.
  • Decide whether or not students will be allowed to take home their devices and develop parental and student agreement forms on caring for the device at home if needed.
  • Create sustainability plans to preempt problems related to staffing and resources for ongoing monitoring, management, and maintenance of the network infrastructure.
  • Develop plans and policies for safely storing student data.
  • Communicate to families what kids of data is beings stored by the school or third parties.
  • Create and maintain an inventory of all available technology tools in the school, in the district, and at local technical assistance centers.

Plan how you will provide increased technology access

  • Work with the technology coordinator(s) in your school and/or district to ensure that the school is equipped with robust bandwidth, security, and connectivity to support the technology devices you have chosen.
  • Monitor usage and possible bottlenecks so potential barriers are identified before they affect teaching and learning.
  • Seek advice from device manufacturers on network specifications and on developing networks that will support the devices that you have chosen to implement within your district and/or school.
  • Consider what level of support to provide to the economically disadvantaged to enable an equitable learning environment and develop a plan for ensuring access to wireless Internet off school premises.
  • Determine how you will address gaps in accessibility and adapt learning experiences to ensure all students are getting the same opportunities to learn and complete technology-based assignments outside of school. Include students with disabilities and their accessibility needs when making decisions about technology. This includes working with manufacturers to ensure programs are accessible and that there are multiple ways for students to get information, demonstrate what they know, and engage in learning.
  • Select high-quality digital learning content and tools used the design and deliver engaging and relevant experiences.
  • Consider how you will address challenges related to interoperability. How will students and teachers who use a variety of learning systems ensure that they are getting a comprehensive picture of student progress?
  • Support the development and use of openly licensed educational materials to promote innovative and creative opportunities of all learners.

Determine how teachers will access technology support

  • Provide need clear guidance on the procedures for accessing devices as well as technical support when devices fail to operate as expected.
  • Review your plan on an ongoing basis to ensure that your inventory is current and your technology tools are accessible, and to identify new strategies to support teacher use of technology as needed.
  • Think beyond access and create a plan for supporting teachers’ use of technology tools. Teachers need to know what is available and how to access it. (For example, if your school has a laptop cart, how does the teacher “sign up” to use the computers?)

Supporting Materials

Schoolwide Tech Implementation: 

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Did you know? Content that is universally designed and accessible benefits all your learners. Captioned media can improve reading and vocabulary skills for struggling readers, beginning readers, and English learners. How else could your students benefit if all your learning materials were accessible?