Integrating Accessible Technology into Early Learning Environments to Close the Achievement Gap

After three years of research, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC ) and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media recently released a joint position statement titled “Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8.” The purpose of the statement is to offer guidance for educators, parents, child care centers, and others involved with early childhood programs on the uses of technology and media in early learning environments. To get more information about the position statement, you can listen to a pre-recorded webcast from NAEYC here.

According to a recent Huffington Post article, this position statement confirms what many have been arguing for years: educational media and technology can be used in early learning environments in ways that are both appropriate and beneficial. 

The article, by Robert M. Lippincott and Debra Sanchez, further goes on to state that “the position statement offers key guidelines on how we can leverage these new innovations to help kids learn — which we believe can have real impact in closing the achievement gap.  This could not come at a more critical time, as two-thirds of America’s children are not reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade, and more than 60 percent of all fourth graders are not proficient in math. These statistics foreshadow the more than 1 million kids who drop out of high school every year, severely limiting their options and costing our nation more than $100 billion in lost wages, taxes and human potential.”

While I definitely agree that technology may be key in the future of education, I’m left wondering about a key part of integrating technology and media into early learning environments: access. Typically, schools in low-income communities have been lacking in resources, including books, facilities, and above all, technology. Regardless of how much educational technology advances, it won’t be of any use to the educational communities who can’t afford them.

It’s not enough for educational technology and media to simply be innovative game-changers, but if something comes along that is an educational game-changer accessible and affordable to all, then we’ll really be closer to closing that achievement gap.