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Preschool Matters Today

Using Digital Tools to Connect with Vulnerable Families and Improve Child Outcomes


October 18, 2017
Shayna Cook
New America

This blog originally appeared on the New America website

Promoting early learning through the support and empowerment of families—especially those who are under-resourced—has become an imperative for education leaders nationwide. In 2014, New America published Envisioning a Digital Age Architecture for Early Education to help leaders visualize success in this media-infused environment.

Since then, New America and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop have joined forces to document initiatives that use digital tools to connect with vulnerable families and improve educational outcomes. This project culminated in a public, interactive map which uses data visualization to show where innovative programs are located, how those programs are designed, and what evidence of impact they are able to share. Interactive tools such as on-demand video and text messaging are being used to inspire and reassure parents, to share learning materials between formal and informal settings, and to bring parents closer to their children’s learning.  The map and an accompanying report, Integrating Technology in Early Literacy: A Snapshot of Community Innovation in Family Engagement, has been used since 2015 by policymakers and philanthropy leaders in early learning to better understand the current landscape of programs across the country.

Now, New America and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center are working to update the map. We invite family engagement and early learning program leaders to fill out our survey. Results will be published publicly next Spring, giving community and state leaders around the country new insights on the changing landscape and which innovations are having a positive impact.

Who Should Complete this Survey?

Is your organization engaged in a program for families, children or educators that uses digital tools to promote children’s language development and early literacy skills? If so, we invite you to fill out this survey, the results of which will be published in an updated version of our interactive map of programs impacting children ages birth through eight. The survey is currently open, but will close at 11:59 pm on December 31, 2017. This survey should take you approximately 20 minutes. You can complete the survey in one or more sittings. Once your survey is complete you will be automatically enrolled in a raffle for one of four $25 gift cards. If you have any questions, feel free to email us here.

Shayna Cook is a policy analyst with the Education Policy program at New America. She was a member of the Early & Elementary Education team, and now works on the Learning Technologies project. Cook researches and reports on innovation in family engagement, new technologies, and digital equity issues concerning children from birth through third grade. She also writes about the early childhood workforce and school discipline issues that impact children in the early years and grades.