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Tech Report  May 1, 2021

Bridging the Digital Access and Use Divides in the Apple and ConnectED Initiative

SRI Authors Linda Shear, Andrea D. Beesley, Mindy Hsiao, Deepa Patel, Sarah Nixon Gerard

Citation

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Shear, L., Nielsen, N., Beesley, A., Hsiao, M., Patel, D., & Gerard, S. (2021). Bridging the Digital Access and Use Divides in the Apple and ConnectED Initiative. SRI Education.

Abstract

This report focuses on implementation of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative with respect to the dual digital divides along socioeconomic lines in access to technology and its use in instruction. It describes why it was important to bridge those divides in the ConnectED schools and offers some lessons learned for others who are implementing similar initiatives.

Within and beyond the U.S., access to advanced technology for students and teachers is held out as a path toward educational transformation. However, in historically underserved schools and communities, this promise remains elusive. Many schools do not have access to the technologies that can open new learning opportunities for teachers and students (the digital-access divide). Even with increased access to technology, the use of that technology in active and creative ways does not automatically follow in schools serving high concentrations of students facing socioeconomic barriers (the digital-use divide).

This report explores the dual digital divides of disparities in access to technology and its use in instruction through the lens of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative, which has been the focus of a rigorous 6-year research study. It is one of a series of reports on the Apple and ConnectED research that address different aspects of implementing 1:1 programs that provide each student with access to a technological device.

Launched in 2014, the Apple and ConnectED Initiative has supported 114 participating schools across the country with an iPad for every child. Schools received a host of programmatic support including extensive professional learning opportunities for teachers and leaders, technology infrastructure upgrades, and process management. The initiative and this research are explicitly situated in a diversity of traditionally under-resourced communities, with schools ranging from pre-K to secondary and from the inner city to rural migrant communities to Native American villages.

This report presents findings from the Apple and ConnectED research related to

  • bridging the technological access divide, which refers to providing technological infrastructure, tools, and support.
  • bridging the technological use divide, which involves moving from passive consumption to using technology in active creative ways.

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