Bringing Education to After-School Programs - Summer 1999

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Technology in After-School Programs

Background. Americans want technology in their children?s schools ? now. Seventy-four percent of American agree that computers improve the quality of education. And, parents really want their children to have technology opportunities in their school-based after-school program. In a 1997 survey of parents who indicated they enrolled or would like to enroll their child in an after-school program, 95 percent feel that their child would benefit from an after-school program that included computer technology classes. But we?re still a long way from closing the gap between the "haves" and "have-nots" in terms of their opportunities to get new technology. The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that wealthy schools were two times more likely to have internet access in classrooms than poor schools ? 36 percent versus 17 percent.

How to integrate technology into an after-school program. Computers and access to the Internet provide tremendous opportunities for after school learning to reinforce reading, math, and writing skills as well as to complete homework and school assignments that focus on doing research, gathering information, and writing reports. More complex math, science, and art projects often necessitate simulations and problem solving that can also be enhanced by using computers. In addition, technology can enable schools to reach families at home and bring other community resources such as museums, libraries, and local projects to kids via telecommunications. In a recent survey on after-school programs, parents cited access to technology and computer literacy as their number one priority for after-school activities.

The national goal of having every student technologically literate and every classroom hooked up to the Internet by the Year 2000 is very much in line with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program?s goals of providing a variety of academic and enrichment activities to students and parents in the communities which they serve. Examples of how your Center can help include:




As you think about organizing and implementing your after-school program with an emphasis in technology, some materials available on the U.S. Department of Education?s website can be useful to you:

  • Getting On-line: A Friendly Guide for Teachers, Students & Parents
  • Parents Guide to the Internet
  • Getting America?s Students Ready for the 21st Century: Meeting the Technology Literacy Challenge
  • Educator?s Guide to Evaluating the Use of Technology in Schools and Classrooms

If you would like hard copies or if the electronic version is not yet accessible, you can order these materials by calling toll-free 1-877-4ED-PUBS, or order on-line by going to

In addition, the following website can be very useful to after-school programs: Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) provides easy access to hundreds of teaching and learning resources from more than 35 federal agencies.

U.S. Department of Education initiatives and technology. Several programs focusing on technology are available to both regular school day and after-school programs. These include:

Technology Literacy Challenge Fund (TLCF). This program provides funding to help states and local districts meet the Administration?s four goals on educational technology: equipping all classrooms with modern computers; connecting all classrooms to the Internet; developing engaging software and content to help all students meet high standards; and preparing all teachers to integrate these new technologies into the curriculum effectively. Schools that have after school programs can use the computers and Internet connections made possible by the TLCF to enhance their program.

Technology Innovation Challenge Grants. This competitive grant program demonstrates innovative uses of educational technology by building partnerships between local school districts, universities, businesses, libraries, software designers, and others. Several Technology Innovation Challenge Grant projects have after-school components. For example, the Neighborhood Learning Network project in Chicago, Illinois brings together the Chicago Public Schools and the Public Housing Authority to expand the student learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Project Lemon LINK in California connects all district students and their parents to the classroom and home through a District Internet/Intranet system that has enabled them to extend learning opportunities to any time and place within the community. The Primary Source Network project in Melvindale-Northern Allen Park public schools in Michigan is working in partnership with the Henry Ford Museum to use the Internet to provide students and teachers access to primary sources of scientific and technological innovation.

Community Technology Centers. This new program establishes computer learning centers in low-income communities. These centers will provide access to technology for disadvantaged students and adults unable to purchase computers for use at home. For students, the centers can provide after-school access to information resources and educational software, allowing them to have access to new learning opportunities and acquire the technology and information management skills. Furthermore, schools are increasingly requiring computer access outside of the school day. The Community Technology Centers address that problem by providing access to the Internet, electronic mail, and creating web sites to complete class projects. Technology centers will also allow parents to communicate with teachers and view online classroom work.

E-Rate. This program provides telecommunications discounts of 20 to 90 percent to connect every school and library to the Internet through the Schools and Libraries Corporation. This Federal Communications Corporation program and the Schools and Libraries Corporation has now been changed to the Schools and Libraries Division. To help close the digital divide, poor and rural schools will be eligible for the deepest discounts. After-school programs can benefit directly from these Internet connections.

Contact and Other Sources of Information:

Program Director: Linda Roberts, Office of Educational Technology


Phone: 202/401-1444

Fax: 202/401-3941

For more information, contact:

Pat Gore, Technology Literacy
Challenge Fund
(202) 401-0039

Jenelle Leonard, Technology
Innovation Challenge Grant
(202) 208-3882

Norris Dickard, Community
Technology Centers
(202) 205-9873

Schools and Libraries Division
(202) 776-0200


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Last Updated -- August 30, 1999, (glc)