A red-hot ed-tech marketplace is creating a feeling of urgency among decision makers in state agencies and local school districts – and early education is no exception. In a world of increasing fiscal constraints, state leaders are under pressure to capitalize on new technologies to improve productivity and help children excel. But without thoughtful adoption, leaders are at risk of spending public dollars on products that sit unused, lock districts into specific brands or platforms, or get in the way of promoting the positive, face-to-face interactions with adults that young children need.
To help state leaders see past the hype, I was commissioned to write a policy brief for the Education Commission of the States. It is being released this week at the commission’s annual forum in Atlanta. The brief, Technology in Early Education: Building Platforms for Connections and Content that Strengthen Families and Promote Success in School, is part of a series underwritten by GE called The Progress of Education Reform. (Other issues in the series have examined digital citizenship, the implications of defining college readiness, and the intricacies of state school funding.)
The brief advises states to harness technology to encourage collaboration across many sectors that typically sit in silos, including school districts, early learning programs, libraries, museums, afterschool programs, adult education, and health services. It focuses on two approaches that would foster better services for children in a digital age: Teacher Effectiveness and Library Partnerships. And it offers a few suggestions for technology adoption under these four recommendations:
- Take advantage of early childhood advisory councils
- Take stock of where and how technology is being used
- Focus on library partnerships and professional development for educators
- Recognize the power of open access to communications technology and media