SETDA Provides Tips on Equity of Access for Students Outside of School

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Access to online resources including digital content, interactive education apps and websites, videos, experts and peers is no longer a “nice to have” but rather a necessity. Unfortunately, teachers and students are often unable to be sure there will be dependable, robust access outside of school depending on family and community circumstances. In “Closing the Homework Gap: Equity of Access for All Students Outside of School,” SETDA hosted a panel of experts that presented solutions for providing out-of-school access and digital resources to students based off their own experiences.

To ensure equity of access for all students outside of school, SETDA recommends working with families, particularly in low-income areas, to help them understand the importance of out-of-school access. They also encourage schools and districts to leverage community partnerships by working with libraries, community centers, mobile community hotspots, or local chambers of commerce. Christine Fox, Deputy Executive Director, SETDA, noted the importance of having safe WiFi access. Although students can access WiFi in places like fast food restaurants, many public spaces do not provide the safest options for high school students to study at night. States, districts and schools are also uniquely positioned to share reduce cost or no cost out-of-school access options for families.

out of school digital access chart

Rhonda Schroeder, EdD, Principal, Arthur Elementary School, Oklahoma City, OK, shared the story of how Arthur Elementary School transitioned from having one computer per classroom to having a 1:1 iPad program. She suggested beginning with a clear mission statement. “It really truly guides all of the decisions instructionally for our students,” she said. Arthur Elementary has also established goals for out-of-school access. To help close the homework gap, the school currently provides 5gigs of 4G access to students via their devices and is staring to work with more community partners. One of their most successful partnerships has been the district’s partnership with the ONECard initiative, run by the Metropolitan Library System, which provides students with access to all local library services.

Traditionally, the responsibility of homework has relied 100% on students and parents, despite some parents being absent or unable to help. By providing out-of-school access to digital instructional materials, students now have more opportunities to personalize their own learning and support to complete their homework. “Teachers are available to even collaborate after hours and comment right then and there on the actual documents,” said Mike Cory, EdD, Principal, Gettys Middle School, SC. Reliable out-of-school access levels the playing field for all. Students are no longer limited by location or income level, have unlimited access to thousands of resources, and are empowered by what they can learn on their own time.

This broadcast was hosted by and SETDA and sponsored by AT&T.

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This article was modified and published by eSchool News.

About the Presenters

Dr. Rhonda Schroeder is the principal at Arthur Elementary School in Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma’s largest and most diverse school district with approximately 45,000 students and 2,700 teachers. She has spearheaded the district’s first 1:1 iPad program where more than 700 students are afforded 24/7 personalized learning opportunities. She holds firm to the belief that student access to technology is the great equalizer. As a result of that belief, Arthur Elementary achieved a 14-point gain on the state school report card given by the Oklahoma State Department of Education—the largest gain in the district. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Central Oklahoma, Master of Education from the University of Oklahoma, Master of Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma, and a doctorate in educational administration from California Coast University.

Dr. Michael Cory is Principal of Richard H. Gettys Middle School in Easley, South Carolina in the School District of Pickens County. He is an experienced educator with a passion to progressively revitalize educational systems. Currently, he also serves as Principal Specialist for a turnaround school in another middle school in the School District of Pickens County. His school was the first school in their district to pilot the Bring Your Own Device initiative and was featured in Men’s Health Magazine as the magazine’s first FitSchool, and an award winning STEAM school. He earned a B.S. degree in accounting from Clemson University, a master’s degree of educational administration from the University of South Carolina, and a doctoral degree in educational administration from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. He serves on the Financial Literacy Committee of Pickens County United Way and is an advocate for his students and their community.

Dr. Barbara Nesbitt is an educator with 30 years of experience in public school education. Dr. Nesbitt has been a teacher, instructional coach, instructional technology coach, independent consultant, district-level coordinator, and director. Currently she is the executive director of technology for the School District of Pickens County in upstate South Carolina. She is also a visiting professor at Clemson University in the School of Educational Leadership. She earned a B.S. degree in early childhood and elementary education at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, a Master of Education degree in School Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Virginia, and a PhD in educational leadership at Clemson University. Dr. Nesbitt is on the K-12 Institutional Executive Board for IMS Global, a non-profit member collaborative committed to enabling plug & play architecture on digital ecosystems. Dr. Nesbitt is also one of ten members on the National Council on Digital Convergence. Dr. Nesbitt’s passion is to help teachers learn to engage students in critical thinking skills through the use of engaging technologies and 21st century pedagogy.

Christine Fox is the deputy executive director for SETDA. As deputy executive director, she collaborates with the executive director in charting strategic direction, administration, planning and financial decisions involving SETDA. She also facilitates the members’ professional learning opportunities including planning and implementing the content for SETDA’s virtual and in-person events and newsletters. In addition, she manages many of SETDA’s research and product development projects from conception to publication. She has worked as an educational consultant and curriculum developer for a national whole school reform model, ESOL coordinator and 3rd grade teacher.

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About the Host and Sponsor

setdaThe State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit membership association launched by state education agency leaders in 2001 to serve, support and represent their emerging interests and needs with respect to the use of technology for teaching, learning, and school operations. Our current work is guided by a strategic plan, Leading, Inspiring and Empowering: The 2013-16 SETDA Strategic Plan, adopted by the SETDA Board of Directors in October 2012 after extensive consultation with the membership. The SETDA mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice.


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