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Report: States Can Harness Technology to Improve Early Education

As states move to create or improve early education programs, policymakers need to start thinking about how communication technologies and interactive media can fit into the broad picture.

That's the message of a new report by Lisa Guernsey, director of the New America Foundation's Early Education Initiative, who frequently writes about technology and early education. She encourages "thoughtful adoption" of new technologies with an eye toward integrating networks that will help strengthen communication and learning for families with young kids. Those networks can include such places as early-learning centers, public libraries, schools and after-school programs, she writes in the report recently released by the Education Commission of the States.

"State leaders will need to encourage collaboration across many sectors that typically sit in silos, including school districts, early learning programs, libraries, museums, after-school programs, adult education, and health services," she says in "Technology in Early Education, Building Platforms for Connections and Content that Strengthen Families and Promote Success in School."

Guernsey notes that libraries have long supported early learning through story hours and other activities, and now also are providers of technology, such as audio books and Internet access—which is often publicly funded. States can harness the power of libraries and their resources and create partnerships with early-learning programs, elementary schools and child-care centers to better reach and help families, she says.

States also should consider assessing where and how technology is being used in early and elementary education and its accessibility to families, provide professional development in educational technology for teachers, and "recognize the power of open access to communications technology and media," the report said.

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