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Monday, March 5, 2018

Strategies to Bridge the K-3 ‘Device Gap’

Just over two-thirds of K-3 teachers reported that on at least one occasion they’d refrained from assigning homework because they didn’t think all their students had access to the technology or digital media needed to complete the work. That percentage was even higher for schools serving a greater number of low-income students.

In the same online survey of educators and parents, conducted last year by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Center for Early Learning, 40% of parents said that challenges with home technology access hampered their children’s ability to stay on pace with their peers.

Based on the survey and in-person conversations with parents, the foundation suggested five strategies for how instructors can help bridge the school/home “device gap”:

1. Inform parents about how their children are using technology and which digital media are being used in the classroom.

2. Recommend specific programs and apps students can use at home to complement what’s being used at school. Since poor Internet service and data limits are among the most common technology hurdles at home, consider programs that don’t require Wi-Fi or cell service to run after being downloaded.

3. Host a parent-teacher learning exchange in your school or across your district to explain how appropriate content is chosen. While teachers aren’t expected to have every answer on devices and apps, the survey and discussions indicated parents do view them as trusted partners for advice on technology use.

4. Rather than focusing solely on scary messages about the potential harmful effects of device use on young children, take a balanced approach that promotes how to “learn and live well” in a world where technology and connectedness are ever more ubiquitous.

5. Connect parents to their local library as a source for increasing their access to technology and further mentoring on appropriate use for young children.

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