How to Make Digital Equity a Reality Today

Leveraging Technology to Provide Equitable Learning Opportunities for ALL edLeader Panel recording screenshot

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This edLeader Panel is presented by CoSN and AASA.
Sponsored by ClassLink

It’s one thing to aspire and another to distill goals into an actionable, day-to-day reality that gets everyone moving in the same direction. Creating equal learning opportunities for every student requires overcoming resource limitations, community values, staff culture, and more. Technology can be the linchpin for success, and three outstanding district leaders offer a roadmap any school can follow—no matter the challenges.

The edLeader Panel “Leveraging Technology to Provide Equitable Learning Opportunities for ALL” was a prescriptive discussion offering practical steps for digital equity. The superintendent panelists addressed CoSN and AASA’s five guiding points for success:

  1. Creating a common vision
  2. Building community
  3. Getting creative with WiFi and devices
  4. Creating digital learners
  5. Addressing the homework gap

Creating a Common Vision

“Help bring people together by changing the conversation to a commonality everybody supports. It’s not about giving students technology, for example, it’s about making students thrive,” said Dr. Jim Roberts, Superintendent of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (IN).

“Providing lots of opportunities for genuine discussion and healthy debate allows leaders to get a pulse on what people think and vet potential barriers,” said Dr. Susan Enfield, Superintendent of Washoe County School District (NV).

All panelists agreed linking the vision to an explicit, actionable, multi-year district plan helps build cohesion and buy-in. Glenn Robbins, Superintendent of Brigantine Public School District (NJ) said it also helps to have a bold mantra that is easy to remember and follow. For example, Dr. Enfield said her district’s guiding force is to “know every student by name, strength, and need. . . “ It drives all resource decisions.

Building Community for Action

While creating a shared vision sounds great, how do you pull together a diverse community? Robbins advised setting egos aside and giving all voices a seat at the table—even naysayers. It can be done in multiple ways. Dr. Roberts explained his district implemented surveys, numerous discovery meetings (held in person or online), and categorized results to reveal trends. He also recommended listening to indirect stakeholders who are community influencers, like pastors, city leaders, and more.

Getting Creative With WiFi and Devices

Thanks to local and federal funding, tech access got a jumpstart during the pandemic. A 1:1 student-to-technology ratio still needs out-of-the-box ideas, like offering WiFi hotspots, using older student talents to create a map of public WiFi locations for families, and enlisting a technology team for tech tutorial videos and home technical support visits.

Technological needs have changed vastly in the last two years. Dr. Enfield said to avoid a one-size-fits-all tech approach. Taking a more precise approach saves time and resources by accurately identifying which students require which type of access.

Creating Digital Learners

All panelists recognized how important it is for students to embrace technology as a productive tool. Teaching parents, caregivers, and students how to be good digital citizens is necessary since things like phones and AI aren’t going away. Leaders can make the most impact by modeling appropriateness, enforcing downtime with no-screen days, training educators on new technologies, and, to avoid penalizing mistakes, making more teachable moments instead.

Addressing the Homework Gap

The reality is students without access outside of school are at a disadvantage, said Dr. Enfield. She and Dr. Roberts said leaders can reevaluate the role of homework and consider what percentage it should be part of the overall grade. According to the panelists, there is no quick answer, but all agreed that balancing homework practice and student opportunity is essential.

Last Words of Advice

Change is always met with initial resistance. Being a leader requires tough decisions and consistency. Staying calm and dedicated to your mission earns respect and acceptance. Take care of yourself, said the panelists. Separate the job from work. Dr. Enfield astutely said the job can be tricky, but the work is all about the students and families. Keep children foremost and it’ll build the brick wall that stands if challenges huff and puff, and try to blow goals off their foundation.

Free Resource: The CoSN Digital Equity Dashboard is a free, innovative, and practical tool designed to help school districts and communities leverage data to close digital equity gaps.

Learn more about this edWeb broadcast, Leveraging Technology to Provide Equitable Learning Opportunities for ALL, presented by CoSN and AASA, and sponsored by ClassLink.

Watch the RecordingListen to the Podcast

Join the Community

Super-Connected is a free professional learning community for school superintendents, district leadership, and aspiring district leaders.

AASAAASA is the premier association for school system leaders and serves as the national voice for public education and district leadership on Capitol Hill.

CoSN CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. CoSN provides thought leadership resources, community, best practices and advocacy tools to help leaders succeed in the digital transformation. CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education.


ClassLink is a global education provider of identity and analytics products that create more time for learning and help schools better understand digital engagement. As leading advocates for open data standards, we offer instant access to apps and files with single sign-on, streamline class rostering, automate account provisioning, and provide actionable analytics. ClassLink empowers 19 million students and staff in over 2,500 school systems. Visit to learn more.

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Article by Suzanne Bell, based on this edLeader Panel