Technology Access - Challenge Map

Technology Access

Technology Access

The Challenge

This challenge ranked as practitioners’ #4 priority in spring 2020.

Explore Visualization

A challenge many districts face is deciding to commit to, or maintain a commitment to, providing each student with a device to support productivity, access to the Internet, and learning applications. Many district leaders are concerned that technology might take center stage in the classroom. The roll out of student access initiatives such as “one to one” is an undertaking requiring a clearly articulated vision, ample leadership and professional development, and technical infrastructure and support. With these initiatives also come the challenges of attending to digital literacy and citizenship, and ensuring the technology is used to best support the teaching and learning goals of the district. Districts who have made the commitment also acknowledge that technology initiatives are not a one time investment and are challenged to identify operational funding for continued support.

Challenge Stats


Staff from urban districts responded they experience this challenge often


Staff from urban districts responded this challenge is urgent

Ideas from the Field

  • One district surveyed all local businesses on whether they have wi-fi, and whether they would allow students to access that network. The list of all the business that agree to allow student access was shared with parents, students, and the community so that families without wi-fi would have options outside of school.
  • One-to-one approaches that provide students with individual devices that they take home continue to grow, with districts looking to expand younger and younger. In some cases, one-to-one access may start in kindergarten; other districts start in fifth grade when they feel a student can reasonably care for a device. Importantly, questions like, “How are we defining what we want to accomplish? How do we ensure this device is a modern tool in the service of learning, and not simply digital integration?” are being asked, with appropriate metrics incorporated for one-to-one initiatives.

In the Words of District Staff

Many of our students don't have access to devices and internet in the home, and if they do, they are sharing devices with multiple siblings. Considering school closures, access to both is critical.
Elementary school teacher
Spring 2020

“Part of the problems with the rollout of devices is to make sure that they're being used in the methods intended and that the kids are not sitting in class kind of daydreaming and going off into these other spaces. So, really one to one has forced us to reorganize and rethink the way we organize classes, the way we do the setups of the lessons. It has really forced us to think differently about instruction.”

“We're a one to one district. I think obviously there's always a monetary challenge. Once you go down that road, it's not a one-term investment, it's an investment that you're going to be making forever unless you choose to discontinue the program. We've invested significantly in our wifi and devices. Professional development is essential because we've spent a lot of time this year especially focused on the SAMR model and where our teachers are using computers in sophisticated manner. The students are using them in a sophisticated manner to support learning. That takes some time. It takes effort.”


EducationSuperHighway Tools & Resources - From EducationSuperHighway, free tools and resources to guide schools through finding sustainable and affordable Internet solutions, as well as a National annual analysis on the state of connectivity in America’s K-12 public schools.

Infrastructure Survey - The CoSN 2017 Infrastructure Survey highlights the progress and the remaining challenges schools face in an effort to increase broadband connectivity and Wi-Fi in classrooms.

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools - Through VILS, Digital Promise collaborates with Verizon to equip every student and teacher at 100+ select middle schools across America with a tablet and up to a four-year data plan.

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