Keeping Tabs on the Digital Divide

The LinkAge

ConnectED: Assessing Edtech Offers

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In June 2013, President Obama announced the ConnectED initiative in front of a packed auditorium at a middle school in Mooresville, North Carolina. The President described ConnectED as “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.” Following this announcement, 10 prominent companies—Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, AT&T, Esri, Microsoft, O’Reilly Media, Prezi, Sprint, and Verizon—led the way by committing more than $2 billion in products and services to ensure that students across country did indeed possess cutting-edge learning technologies.

As one of the three nonprofit organizations tapped by the Department of Education to help manage ConnectED, EveryoneOn quickly identified the need to have input from the K-12 public school educator community—especially from school district chief information and chief technology officers who regularly identify and implement learning technology solutions.

In August 2014, EveryoneOn brought together the National Advisory Council on ConnectED (NACC), a group tasked with “providing public education officials the opportunity to offer insights, recommendations, and guidance to ensure private sector ConnectED commitments are effectively leveraged to provide maximum value; resulting in more teachers and students accessing a full range of feature-rich educational devices and high-quality software (including applications), in a coordinated and highly effective manner.”

On September 18, 2014, the NACC met in Washington, DC to discuss the offers. This meeting also offered the NACC an opportunity to converse with representatives from seven of the ConnectED companies who wanted to be involved in improving their education technology offers with input from educators. As the meeting progressed, the Council identified key priorities to optimize the effectiveness of not only the exisiting ConnectED offers, but all education technology offers for the K-12 public school community. These priorities were consolidated into the 13 that now constitute the basis of the rubric.

NACC Rubric

 

The purpose of the rubric was to create a simple and actionable assessment of technology offers based upon priorities that the Council has deemed critical to the education goals of K-12 public schools and districts. It is the Council’s hope that education technology decision makers and providers will use this tool to create the best value and impact for K-12 public school students.

It has been an honor to contribute to the development of this framework and the President’s ConnectED initiative. Furthermore, it has been a privilege to collaborate with the dedicated members of the NACC and generous representatives of the ConnectED companies. Each of the 12 companies is providing a valuable resource to the K-12 public education community and collectively, these ConnectED offers have the potential to move the needle on closing the digital divide in our country.

For more information on the rubric, see the Council’s full report, “Priorities for a Connected Classroom: A Framework for Assessing Educational Technology Offers.”


Reginald Galloway is the manager of programs and operations at EveryoneOn. Follow him on Twitter @ReggieGalloway.