Digital Divide

Digital education may be the future of education, but most American schools are far from ready. This Hechinger Report series examines a national effort to close the digital divide by connecting all American schools to high-speed Internet, and why so many schools still lag so far behind.



A student in Jennifer Harmsen’s seventh-grade social studies classroom at Hillsborough Middle School watches a video on his Chromebook about life in ancient Rome. (Photo: Meghan E. Murphy)

Are iPads or Chromebooks better for schools?

By Meghan E. Murphy

For an entire school year Hillsborough, New Jersey, educators undertook an experiment, asking: Is the iPad really the best device for interactive learning? It’s a question that has been on many minds since 2010, when Apple released the iPad and schools began experimenting with it. The devices came along at a time when many school […]

Kiara McPherson and Jeremiah Hilliard, two students at Em Boyd Elementary, work on a science project. Students say they prefer the iPads to the desktop computers that they used to use in class.

In Mississippi schools, access to technology lacking, uneven

By Jackie Mader

CLINTON, Miss.—When Kelsi Collins was first given a laptop last year at Clinton High School, she hesitated to change from years of reading textbooks and writing assignments by hand to researching topics and typing papers online. It didn’t help that, after she’d ignored teachers’ warnings to back up her work, her computer crashed and she […]

Fifth graders Aiyanah Tyler, Trinity Coker and Hakim Walker work with 13-inch Apple MacBooks from late 2009 running Mac OS 10.8.5 at James G Blaine K-8 school in Philadelphia Monday, June 2, 2014. (John Brecher / NBC News)

Can high-poverty urban districts like Philadelphia close the digital divide?

By Sarah Garland

When it comes to speedy Internet access in schools, which technology advocates say will be critical to ensuring that American students stay competitive globally, Philadelphia is way ahead of many districts across the country. In the Obama administration’s new ConnectED initiative, an effort to redirect $2 billion in federal funding to put high-speed broadband in […]

Shift to online testing drives California schools to close tech gap

By Pat Wingert

The largest field test in the country of new online assessments aligned to the Common Core got underway in California this spring, and as it speeds up the state’s transition to the rigorous new standards, it may also help close the digital divide. “This is the tipping point,” said Diane Hernandez, director of assessment development […]

Technology offers special help in special ed

By Gail Robinson

Many teachers, parents and administrators say that laptops, tablets and the various apps help engage and motivate special ed students, while also making it easier for teachers to individualize instruction and track progress.

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Wanted: More gutsy leaders to drive schools into digital age

By Meghan E. Murphy

Educational technology, for all its potential, is riddled with glitches and start-up pains, especially when you’re among the first to trade pencils for tablets.

At Wilcox Academy on N. Broad Street, teacher Shelley Collen photographs Akhai Phoenix with an iPhone as the pre-K student changes a sign from red to green on Thursday, November 7, 2013. Documenting development is part of the state's new early childhood standards that are being implemented in day care centers called Teaching Strategies Gold. (Michael DeMocker, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune) No reproduction

Can technology improve preschool? Louisiana teachers are about to find out

By Sarah Tan

As Louisiana imposes academic standards for preschool education, publicly funded child-care centers around the state are beginning to realize they must wire their buildings and buy more computers. Some worry they won’t have the money to comply.

at Matas Elementary on Thursday, May 1, 2014. Matas Elementary has to find ways prepare for the computerized PARCC assessment test in the 2014-2015 school year. Without enough computers or wifi capabilities, they are referring to this year as "transitional" according to assistant principal Liz Gurtner. "We don't want the technology for the kids to be the blockage for doing well and it takes a few years for them to get prepared." The second grade glass is using Promethean boards, audio assisted reading exercises, and a mix of computers and pencil-based testing to prepare them for the computer testing in 5th grade. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune) No Reproduction

What’s the upside to tough, new Common Core tests for schools? Throwing out those decade-old computers

By Sarah Tan

In a hallway at Mildred Harris Elementary School in Bridge City, a student wearing huge headphones sits on the floor, industriously tapping away on a computer tablet. In the classroom behind him, his kindergarten class is continuing its lesson, following along with a teacher using an interactive whiteboard.

Giann Nelson plays the "i-Ready" game with his back pack on - he likes to wear it for back support- at the Arthur Ashe Charter School on Friday, April 25, 2014. Arthur Ashe's "blended learning" program is nationally praised, with classes that include both computerized and personal instruction. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune) No reproduction

Online test requirements help spur tech innovation at some New Orleans schools

By Danielle Dreilinger

Unless the Legislature changes its mind, next year Louisiana’s third through eighth graders in public schools will start taking new, national tests on the computer. And while that wasn’t the primary motivation for Success Prep Principal Niloy Gangopadhyay to explore broader online learning, it’s helped spur the process. After all, the school had to buy a bunch of new computers anyway, for the tests.

Romalice Davis,10, practices multiplication while Dorrian Dennis, 11, works with special education math teacher Meg Troha on median at Arthur Ashe Charter School on Friday, April 25, 2014.Arthur Ashe's "blended learning" program is nationally praised, with classes that include both computerized and personal instruction. (Photo by Julia Kumari Drapkin, Nola.com | The Times-Picayune) No reproduction

Technology learning poised to take off in New Orleans public schools

By Danielle Dreilinger

The digital bell sounds, and students at Arthur Ashe Charter School in New Orleans’ Gentilly neighborhood file into the classroom. They sit down and immediately get to work: Put on headphones, pull up the Internet browser, click into their program, choose “math.”

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