There have been great strides in educational quality and access in America since the nation's early days during the 18th century, and changes in education have accelerated greatly with the advent of affordable and easily accessible computer technology starting in the 1990s. In the early Colonial period, public education was largely informal, and in many cases there was no mandate for public education and no formal system in place for providing public education to those who wanted to learn. This has changed dramatically over time, and there is now a federal Department of Education that oversees educational quality and access nationwide.
In many cases, early Americans only provided education to boys, which stands in contrast to the contemporary universal education that is mandatory for school-aged children of all genders. In another great contrast from the earliest days of American education, contemporary education relies heavily on the use of technology, including online portals through which teachers can communicate with students and assign work. The rise in access to personal technology such as ebooks and tablet computers also changed education to focus less on paper handouts and physical books, and more on digital teaching materials that students can access from their personal technology at home.