Supporting Access to Educational Technology 

Home E CES Stories E Supporting Access to Educational Technology 
Article Author: Kathy Levesque
Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
Article Date: 4/4/2024
Article URL:

In 1987, schools and districts were not commonly thinking about educational technology as a means to level the playing field for student opportunity. But CES (then named HEC) Executive Director Earl Batchelder was already testifying about it at the state hearings on Telecommunications in Education. Batchelder said at the time, “With all of the attention that has been given to excellence in education, and to quality and equality of education, one of the things that is not being addressed successfully in any kind of a universal fashion is an equality of educational opportunity.” He went on to advocate for the use of distance education to increase student access to AP and other courses in rural areas, where such opportunities were poor or nonexistent. It was the beginning of a vision about the power of educational technology to change access for students in and outside the region. 

In 2003, CES received grants from the Federal Rural Utility Service and a Massachusetts Educational Technology grant, and worked with local districts to pilot distance learning courses for their students. The project began with Gateway Regional and Mohawk Regional, and quickly expanded to 12 more local districts. It offered technology, guidance, and a structure for collaboration between schools, who had the opportunity to develop and share classes that they could not offer on their own. By 2005, the Western Massachusetts Distance Learning Network served 18 different school districts, and was training teachers in how to use video conferencing technology in their classrooms. The work to support districts and educators in adopting innovative technology tools for the classroom, and leveraging distance learning, continued to be a strong area of specialization for CES. Of a 2016 distance learning project in the region, Angela Burke, then Director of Technology at CES commented, “The project has the potential to change the educational direction and open doors otherwise not available for the rural community residents involved.”

Also in 2016,  over two hundred educators attended the Collaborative for Educational Services 4th Annual Technology in Education (TiE2016) Conference, held at Holyoke Community College. Conference presenters shared a common thread that began with the first conference in 2013: how technology can be utilized to involve students more in the design of their own educational process. The use of technology to empower students and expand their access to learning would become a recurring theme in the CES educational technology work. 

Educational technology took center stage in 2020; when remote learning was the only answer to COVID; and educators pivoted quickly to provide continuity for their students over the lengthy and unanticipated break from in person instruction. Schools and districts worked to ensure students had the equipment, technology and support to work remotely. Some districts held virtual awards and graduation ceremonies that spring. CES provided support, coaching and online PD to teachers struggling to find effective ways to keep students connected and engaged online. We moved our ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Certification, Licensure, and SEI courses online.  We thought remote learning would be over by the end of April 2020. We were wrong.

Today, CES offers deep expertise to educators, schools and districts in educational technology. We offer expertise for training educators on ISTE standards, digital learning and citizenship, and online learning and instruction. In the current and emerging world of AI, VR, and growing social media platforms, CES specialists are working to bring knowledge, critical thinking and support to educators whose classrooms and students are evolving on a daily basis. 

Student access to online content has changed the way that they learn, practice activism, and conduct global dialogue. CES specialist Casey Daigle notes, “Students are already using technology in ways that can transform teaching and learning, better connect us as humans, and create belonging and equity. Educators have the opportunity to acknowledge that and inspire students to positively contribute to and participate in the digital world. And we ask the question, how is this making it possible for you and your students to see each other in a new way?” 

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