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Technology Needed in Early Years to Close Digital Divide, Report States

CORRECTION: This blog post has been corrected to revise the spelling of Erin-Elizabeth Johnson's name and to include the name of a fourth author of the report.

Educators and policymakers must better harness technology in the early years to help close the digital divide between low-income students and their wealthier peers, a new report asserts.

This means inserting technology into early-childhood education programs in a meaningful way, states the study entitled "Using Early-Childhood Education to Bridge the Digital Divide," and written by Lindsay Daugherty, Rafiq Dossani, Erin-Elizabeth Johnson, and Mustafa Oguz of the Santa Monica, Calif.-based RAND Corporation.

"Technology literacy plays an important role in a child's ability to succeed in school and later life," Daugherty, the report's lead author, said in a statement. "But even as society's access to digital technology grows, many children in low-income families have lower rates of access and are less likely to use technology for educational purposes."

Technology can address skills gaps for disadvantaged children, the report states. It can aid with reading and math skills, motor skills, and socio-emotional skills.

The study's researchers outline five key questions that it says educators must address to make better use of technology in early childhood education:

• What is the goal for information and communication technology in early-childhood education?
• How do we define appropriate use of technology in early-childhood education?
• Once defined, how do we support effective use through devices, connectivity, software, and other components of information and communication infrastructure?
• How do we ensure that early-childhood education providers are prepared to address the digital divide?
• What relationship should parents and families have to the integration of technology into early childhood education?

The full report can be downloaded here.

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