In our increasingly connected world, too often the nation’s classrooms are an afterthought. Many schools are at or near bandwidth capacity and are relying on outdated hardware, not to mention teachers who are forced to do more teaching with fewer resources. It’s against this backdrop that we’re reminded that too few students are given the chance to explore digital tools in the classroom. And that’s why we’re celebrating the newest ConnectED commitment from ITI-member Adobe.
At the White House today, President Obama recognized Adobe’s commitment of $300 million in software for students and teachers, in addition to a number of professional development resources for educators. Most striking, Adobe’s pledge pushes private sector investment in ConnectED to over $1 billion in just one month’s time.
The ConnectED initiative, if you aren’t familiar, was launched by President Obama to usher in a new era in America’s classrooms by upgrading Internet connectivity, investing in professional development for teachers, and encouraging the private sector to be active partners by committing to donate or deeply discount cutting edge hardware and software technologies to schools. It’s the president’s hope that the initiative will connect 99 percent of the nation’s students to next generation broadband technologies by 2017.
Today’s education landscape is riddled with hurdles to creativity and learning, chief among the digital divide. About a year ago, Pew Research released a report with findings that speak to just how important digital tools are in a 21st century classroom. The report found that 92 percent of teachers indicated that the Internet and other digital technologies have had a major impact in giving them access to more materials and resources. Additionally, 76 percent of respondents “strongly agree” with the idea that the Internet “enables students to find and use resources that would otherwise not be available to them.”
On the other side of the coin, the report found that just half of those teachers working in low income areas reported that their school does a “good job” of providing them the wherewithal needed to incorporate digital tools in the classroom. Likewise, nearly four in ten respondents in low income areas indicated that their school is “behind the curve” in implementing new technologies in the classroom.
Findings like these should be a stark reminder that while many might be reaping the unrivaled benefits of technology in the classroom, there is still a large segment of our population being left behind.
And that’s why we’re so excited, both for Adobe and the beneficiaries of the company’s pledge.
At its core, the tech sector is solutions-driven, and that ethos extends all the way into the nation’s classrooms. The leadership exhibited by Adobe today, and Apple, Autodesk, and Microsoft earlier in the month should be applauded and emulated by others. Their down payments will, without a doubt, bridge the digital divide and help an untold number of kids –who otherwise may not have had the chance –to tinker and create.