The U.S. Department of Education wants education leaders to address disparities limiting ed tech's potential to transform teaching and learning, according to its newly revised 2024 National Educational Technology Plan.
The plan identifies three persistent ed tech barriers to equity that it says need to be addressed:
- Digital use divide: The inequitable implementation in how students use technology. For instance, some students are asked to actively use technology in the classroom, while others use ed tech to passively complete assignments.
- Digital design divide: Inequitable access to professional learning for teachers in understanding and designing lesson plans that harness ed tech.
- Digital access divide: Inequitable access to broadband connectivity, devices and digital content. This also includes equitable accessibility, as well as access to lessons in digital health, safety and citizenship skills.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement Monday that key federal investments have already been made to close the digital divide and provide equitable access to technology for all students. Cardona also tied the updated ed tech plan to the department’s “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” initiative, which aims “to advance educational equity and excellence.”
“As we work to Raise the Bar in education, it’s essential we focus on empowering teachers to become designers of active learning, using technology in effective ways to engage and inspire students,” Cardona said. “The 2024 National Educational Technology Plan is a forward-thinking approach to reframing and realizing the potential of educational technology to enhance the instructional core, reduce achievement gaps, and improve student learning in our schools.”
The Education Department’s plan outlines recommendations for leaders at state, district and school levels for addressing ed tech disparities and closing the three divides. This is the first time since January 2017 that the department has released an update to the National Educational Technology Plan.