Afterschool Training Toolkit for Technology Teaches More Than Just Computer Skills

May 11, 2007
Austin, Texas

Laura Shankland
Communications Associate
Phone: 512-391-6556

It’s not uncommon for a teenager to dream of becoming a pop star. Although we can’t all win American Idol, an afterschool program in New York is helping students pursue their passion for music while using technology to develop career skills. Focusing on technology, instructors at the program teach students to write, record, and produce their own albums.

Using technology to develop professional skills is just one of the practices featured in the Afterschool Training Toolkit for Technology. This free online staff development tool is developed around evidence-based promising practices that are shown to boost student success. The toolkit was created by the National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning, which is housed at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) in Austin, Texas.

“Technology can be used for activities as basic as researching and completing school assignments or reinforcing learning,” says Marilyn Heath, a SEDL program associate who led the development of the technology toolkit. “Those are great places to start, but there’s so much more you can do with technology—especially in an afterschool setting.”

Lessons on developing self-expression and creativity have students writing, performing, and filming their own movies—complete with special effects. Some of the activities in the finding and solving problems section of the technology toolkit take students outside for a treasure hunt using handheld GPS devises for a geocaching activity. “Afterschool professionals always tell us that their students love to use computers. Maybe the computer starts out as a great ‘hook’ to get their attention, but these activities help students develop critical thinking and leadership skills that they can use in other areas of their lives,” explains Heath.

The toolkit is available at In addition to video clips of exemplary afterschool technology programs, the toolkit includes lesson plans, research on and resources for embedding academic content in afterschool activities, and suggestions for discussion and interdisciplinary connections.

About the Partnership

The National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning provides assistance, training, and tools to help local afterschool programs build capacity to strengthen learning. It is supported by the Department of Education's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education under contract number MRED-03-CO-0048 and includes the following partners:
  • Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), primary contractor
  • National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST)
  • Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
  • Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL)
  • SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • WGBH Educational Foundation
  • U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
For more information about the Partnership, visit

About SEDL

The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) is a nonprofit corporation based in Austin, Texas. SEDL is dedicated to solving significant education problems and improving teaching and learning through research, research-based resources, and professional development. For more information about SEDL, visit