Student access to digital learning resources outside the classroom

Schools, teachers, communities and families play a critical role in successfully integrating technology into teaching, learning and assessment.

Technology provides learning opportunities to students but does not guarantee success. A new report produced by the (US) National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) explores the educational impact of access to digital learning resources (computers, mobile devices and the internet) outside of the traditional classroom.  The report focuses on students aged from 3-18.

  • 94% of children had access to a computer at home (2015)
  • 61% had internet access at home (2015)
  • Key barriers to access to digital learning resources include living in low income households and geographical differences (poor access to the internet in remote/rural locations)
  • Teachers face challenges when it comes to integrating tech into their teaching practices, including a lack of time to plan for tech integration strategies
  • However, when teachers do introduce a new tech to support learning, students typically learn it quickly and are eager to adopt the tech

The report is drawing on data from a number of sources, including the Census Bureau, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ad the National Center for Educational Statistics.

However, there is scope for much more detailed research and the report calls on the education research community to further develop an understanding of the importance of home and school use of digital learning resources – and to help develop effective teaching practices. Of particular value would be the design of longitudinal studies to collect national data about students, parents, teachers and schools; home internet use and the socioeconomic variables that impact on educational experiences. 

[Librarians and information professionals working across the educational and educational research sectors may well ask why the report does not reference the role of libraries in supporting non-classroom teaching by providing access to the internet and digital tools.] 

Source: NCES.