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E-rate Funding: Technology Helps Students Learn in a Safe Environment

By: Steve Meany, CEO

As educators know, if you want to motivate and inspire students, it’s essential to keep them engaged. In a tech-driven world, that means utilizing laptops, tablets, and smartphones in and outside the classroom. Schools across the country have or plan to implement 1:1 and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) solutions that allow them to adapt to the ways today’s students learn best. They know that students who have individual access to digital devices often see a rise in test scores and graduation rates.

Most experts agree that technology should play an educational role in students’ lives, preparing them for a future that most certainly will see tech’s influence continue to grow. There are many ways that technology in the classroom is changing education.

Access to Technology Benefits Students

Students who have access to technology have access to high-quality content that is timely and relevant to their everyday lives. When educators can customize, personalize, and even make a student’s interaction with that technology fun, everyone wins.

Here are some ways technology is currently being used to shape the educational environment.

  • No Walls. Mobile technology bridges the classroom and a student’s home. Smartphones in particular allow students to break free from the computer lab, freeing them to work inside the classroom, at home, or in the library.
  • No More Book Covers. That’s because textbooks are, and will continue to become, extinct. Mobile devices will see the rise of eBooks which are cheaper, easy to update in real-time, quickly accessed, and much more interactive.
  • Adapting Roles. Technology has created real change in student and teacher roles. Teachers no longer simply dispense information but, instead, facilitate a student’s active engagement in digital learning tools.
  • Collaboration. While collaboration has always been an integral part of education, technology lets students work with each other and their teachers in or outside the classroom.
  • Personalization. Students perform best when they’re able to work at their own level and pace. That wasn’t always easy without technology. Today, lessons can be customized to fit an individual student’s learning style.

Technology Promotes a Safe Learning Environment

There’s incredible potential in emerging interactive video technologies to help prevent school conflict and violence. In contrast to traditional methods of addressing conflict issues after an incident occurs, Peer Mentoring 2.0 is a preventative approach that connects all grade-level students in the same and between different schools. It’s based on the assumption that some of the best mentors of students are other students.

Peer mentoring is used in face-to-face classroom settings and through digital platforms like FaceTime and Skype. The programs, in which older students befriend and mentor younger ones in a structured environment have grown in popularity for several reasons, not the least of which is to capitalize on the importance of peer relationships for adolescents. When the mentees feel competent and connected to their school and peers there is a positive effect on their grades, academic achievement, and social behavior and attitudes.

Access and Achievement in a Safe Environment

The E-Rate Program, also known as the USAC Schools and Libraries Program, helps ensure schools and libraries obtain high-speed internet access at affordable rates. Since the FCC modernized E-Rate in early 2015, 77% of school districts are now meeting the agency’s minimum high-speed internet goal of 100 Kbps per student. E-Rate can also help your school make significant progress toward connecting students to the promise of digital learning in a safe environment. It’s a great first step in making sure no student misses out on all that digital learning can bring to her or his life.