Last school year we teamed up with our friends at Qualcomm at Alvin Dunn Elementary School in San Marcos, California, to launch a tablet program to study and close the “homework gap” – a term coined by the FCC to describe the problem that students face when they are unable to complete schoolwork due to lack of Internet access at home. Through this study, participating students received tablets with data plans – a transformative experience for those affected by the homework gap. Yesterday our study was featured on WIRED – check out the preliminary data that was featured in the article:
- Among the students who were previously affected by the homework gap, 96 percent said having at-home access made them better learners.
- 84 percent of all the students surveyed said they were using the device to write papers and complete homework assignments at home.
- After receiving tablets with data plans, students reported increases in confidence and collaboration with their peers.
- More than half of the students said home Internet access has made them more interested in what they were learning.
For Julie Evans, this data isn’t surprising – there have been similar impacts in schools across the country that have provided students Internet access at home. “At-home access facilitates the opportunity to be self-directed learners, and to take what they’re learning in school and extend it,” Evans says. “The idea of instilling in these students a desire for lifelong learning, and the resourcefulness to know how to go pursue that is something that transcends just learning algebra.”
With the homework gap becoming increasingly relevant, it’s interesting to see what connectivity can do for students. Interested in learning more about our study with Qualcomm? Read the article on WIRED, “Schoolkids Don’t Just Need iPads. They Need Data Plans” by Issie Lapowsky.
This year our Speak Up surveys feature questions about the homework gap. Is your school or district working to close the homework gap? Let us know by participating in Speak Up 2015 – open from October 1st through December 18th, 2015. Click here to register.
On top of its decision to raise Internet connectivity funding for schools, the Federal Communications Commission is encouraging the technology industry to improve innovative educational material. On January 8th, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel spoke to a group of tech leaders in order to encourage the “digital disruption within teaching and the textbook industry,” calling the textbook industry “unimaginative” and a burden to both educators and students, as most school districts cannot afford to update their textbooks regularly.
“…The world and the job opportunities that are out there look remarkably different,” said Rosenworcel. With 50% of current jobs requiring digital skills – and 77% of future jobs requiring digital skills in the next decade – Rosenworcel suggested that textbooks have digital counterparts (e.g. software, apps) in order to engage students on an interactive level. With improved textbooks and educational tools, and a potential increase in the FCC’s E-rate spending, Rosenworcel hopes to reduce “the homework gap,” which occurs when students lack home Internet access in order to complete their homework.
Interested in learning more? Read the original article, “FCC Commissioner to Tech Industry: It’s Time to Reinvent Textbooks, Teaching” by Jason Shueh (Government Technology).
During Speak Up 2014, we asked questions regarding Internet access, E-rate funding, and ed tech funding. For example, we asked technology leaders: If you had increased Internet bandwidth, how would your school or district use that enhanced connectivity?
Find out the results from this question and more when we release the data on February 4th!
Project Tomorrow, a national education 501.c.3 non-profit organization, is pleased to provide the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with a specially selected set of our national research on the use of technology and the Internet within K-12 education to inform the modernization of the E-rate goals proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) adopted July 19, 2013.
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