The Department of Education has released the 2024 National Educational Technology Plan (NETP): A Call to Action for Closing the Digital Access, Design and Use Divides.

“From the American Rescue Plan to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and more, the Biden-Harris Administration has made bold investments aimed at closing the digital divide and ensuring all students can equitably access the latest digital tools and technology,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “As we work to Raise the Bar in education, it’s essential we focus on empowering teachers to become designers of active learning, using technology in effective ways to engage and inspire students. The 2024 National Educational Technology Plan is a forward-thinking approach to reframing and realizing the potential of educational technology to enhance the instructional core, reduce achievement gaps, and improve student learning in our schools.”

The national education technology plan was first released as part of the 2000 Educate America Act and has been updated multiple times since, most recently in 2016.

The department explained that while past NETPs have largely served as surveys of the state of the field, the 2024 NETP frames three key divides limiting the transformational potential of educational technology to support teaching and learning, including:

  • “The Digital Use Divide, addressing opportunities to improve how students use technology to enhance their learning, including dynamic applications of technology to explore, create, and engage in critical analysis of academic content and knowledge;
  • The Digital Design Divide, addressing opportunities for educators to expand their professional learning and build the capacities necessary to design learning experiences enabled by technology; and
  • The Digital Access Divide, addressing opportunities for students and educators to gain equitable access to educational technology, including connectivity, devices, and digital content. This also includes accessibility and digital health, safety, and citizenship as key elements of digital access.”

Education Department officials said the 2024 NETP maps each of the three divides to the “instructional core” –  meaning students, teachers, and content – and focuses on how schools, districts, and states can use educational technology to help design learning experiences that improve student access to educational opportunities and their outcomes.

Additionally, the 113 page NETP provides action-oriented recommendations for states, districts, and school leaders alongside examples from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several Territories for addressing disparities in educational technology and closing the three divides.

In addition the NETP, the Education Department also released guidance that is intended to increase understanding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s requirements regarding assistive technology (AT) devices and services for children with disabilities.

The department will also release a collection of Federal resources to support students’ digital health, safety, and citizenship.

The NETP was developed through a collaboration between Education Department’s Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, Office of Educational Technology, as well as industry groups including SETDA, InnovateEDU, Learning Forward, Project Tomorrow, and Whiteboard Advisors.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs