A toolkit to bring digital learning to afterschool programs

With support from Google, the National AfterSchool Association (NAA) recently released the Afterschool Tech Toolkit, designed to guide afterschool programs in effectively integrating technology into their programs. In this post, Gina Warner, president and CEO of NAA, shares more their process of engaging community experts to create this tool.

Hearing this, our team embarked on a journey, supported by a grant from Google, to better understand the barriers that afterschool practitioners face in providing digital opportunities.

We interviewed over 100 afterschool leaders, and heard that though they want to integrate technology into existing afterschool programs, lack of of Wi-Fi and devices prevents students from accessing technology and digital learning opportunities to complete assignments, thereby perpetuating the digital divide. Afterschool professionals think it’s important to help students produce technology—rather than just consuming it—but there’s a lack of resources and training to help encourage this innovative spirit in their educational environments.

With continuing support from Google, we built the Afterschool Tech Toolkit to help address these needs. The toolkit includes a series of modules to train school day and afterschool educators on how to implement digital learning and technology in afterschool programs.

In addition to resources and training modules, the toolkit highlights examples of afterschool programs that are already using technology in innovative and engaging ways—and that can serve as models for programs starting to integrate technology and digital learning. For example, the Educational Video Center in New York City teaches students industry standard digital media skills to develop interactive websites about a social issue of relevance to them. The afterschool program at Crocker Elementary School, in Fitchburg, MA, integrates coding, robotics, digital photography, LEGO WeDo, and other technology and digital learning opportunities into their existing program options.

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These LA's BEST elementary students are tinkering with code to get their robot to successfully complete its mission.

Since summer is a great time to think about how to integrate technology into afterschool programs, we’re also a series of webinars to train afterschool leaders on the toolkit. As on-the-ground practitioners test and use the toolkit, we will be eagerly gathering their feedback on additional resources and supports necessary to serve students throughout the country.

We look forward to supporting programs to enable staff and students alike to become active and responsible digital citizens, critical consumers and innovative makers themselves.

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