Apr 26, 2022

New Topical Brief Illustrates Education Technology Needs and State Strategies for Strengthening Remote Learning

Two fourth grade students work on their laptops while sitting together on the classroom floor.

Although the Region 5 Comprehensive Center (R5CC) supports projects that address state-specific education needs, stakeholders in all four states in Region 5 often grapple with similar challenges. They also have unique and often innovative ways of overcoming the challenges.

 

In an effort to highlight some of the strategies state education leaders use (or plan to use) to address education needs that are common across the region, the R5CC team is developing a series of topical briefs. The first brief in the series focuses on technology access and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Teaching and learning moved online rapidly in many communities at the beginning of the pandemic. School districts then had to sustain and continuously improve virtual instruction processes over the last two years, prompting state education agencies to take steps to improve access to and use of technology systems and resources, increasing students’ ability to conduct remote school activities effectively. 

 

The R5CC team reviewed American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) plans for Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia to identify challenges education stakeholders face and strategies they employ to solve them. The R5CC team created a topical brief to illustrate and summarize the needs and strategies used by education stakeholders in the region.  

 

The four states in Region 5 identified different priorities relative to technology but had one common need—to ensure student groups, such as those who are homeless, from low-income families, or have disabilities are able to connect to remote education systems and applications via the Internet. 

 

Other priorities identified in states’ ARP ESSER plans are improving access to reliable high-speed internet/broadband (KY, TN, and VA), improving technology infrastructure (WV), and providing adequate multi-lingual parent support to help with technology at home (KY)

 

State education agency stakeholders described a range of strategies they used to address the needs, which are highlighted in the brief and include:

  • Kentucky’s updated Digital Learning Guidelines, which provide guiding principles and digital learning resources and courses for districts, schools, and digital providers that correspond with the Kentucky academic standards.
  • Tennessee’s T-Mobile Tech for TN Students program, which will enable districts that apply to distribute digital devices (e.g., hotspots) to students who would not otherwise have access to the Internet.
  • Virginia’s Virtual Learning Support Toolkit, which provides research-based guidance and professional learning resources for educators and school leaders, such as asynchronous learning modules and videos.
  • West Virginia’s West Virginia Kids Connect initiative enables students to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots at public locations throughout the state (e.g., K-12 schools, colleges/universities, libraries, state parks). 

 

Stay tuned for upcoming briefs in the series to learn more about how states in the region strategize to address common state education needs. Contact the Region 5 Comprehensive Center for more information on the technical assistance we provide and the projects we support.