[Skip to Content]
News Story

New Research Brief Released: Educational Technology in Corrections 2015

Posted on 08/28/2015

Educational Technology in Corrections 2015

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) recently released Educational Technology in Corrections 2015 External link opens in new window or tab. This new report details the current status of educational technologies in corrections, existing and emerging approaches to providing such services in facilities, and the successes and challenges of early implementers. The report states that it is designed to inform federal, state, and local corrections officials, and correctional education administrators, of ways to "securely and cost effectively provide advanced technologies in corrections facilities to help strengthen and expand educational and reentry services."

Educational Technology in Corrections 2015 is an initial response to the 2014 RAND report, Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education. The new OCTAE report builds upon findings from this earlier report, which laid out the challenges and opportunities that technology presents for correctional education. OCTAE has entered this educational arena with enormous respect for the legitimate security concerns of correctional staff. But it also has entered with an optimism that advances in electronic communications and educational technology can be safely used to extend higher-quality teaching and learning resources to correctional teachers and students. 

Correctional settings create significant barriers for educators, incarcerated students, and program partners that must be accommodated in order to provide an effective teaching and learning environment. The introduction of advanced technologies makes these barriers even more apparent. While other education systems have expanded their use of technology, correctional education has lagged behind. The major reason: security concerns. 

This report describes the barriers to integrating technology in correctional education — including state and local policies that prohibit incarcerated individuals from accessing the Internet — and provides examples of ways some states and localities have overcome these barriers. Insights from the report suggest that strengthening correctional education services and using advanced technologies helps correctional education programs reduce recidivism rates and ease the reentry process. 

The report details ways in which correctional institutions are cautiously adopting advanced technologies to "help prepare students to join our globally networked society; provide students with access to online assessments; expand the professional development resources available to instructors; support an education continuum for incarcerated individuals; and, expand the reach of correctional education services." 

The report, produced under contract by RTI International, concludes with recommendations for state corrections agencies, facilities, and their education partners to consider as they look for ways to strengthen and expand their correctional education services. The recommendations focus on learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity.

Download Educational Technology in Corrections 2015 External link opens in new window or tab.

Source: OCTAE Connection, August 19, 2015 External link opens in new window or tab