Presented by Dr. A. Katrise Perera, Superintendent, Gresham-Barlow School District, OR; Glenn Robbins, Superintendent, Brigantine Public Schools, NJ; and Dr. Aaron Spence, Superintendent, Virginia Beach City Public Schools, VA
Two months after the COVID-19 crisis forced educators across the United States to leave their classrooms and start teaching online, the scope of the changes and challenges have now become clear, and educational leaders have started to identify what’s working and what still needs improvement. During a recent edLeader Panel the superintendent of one of America’s largest school districts spoke with a former state superintendent and other education leaders about key issues affecting students, parents, and educators, including digital access and equity, online privacy, and funding.
The goal of digital equity is to ensure that all students have access to devices, high-speed internet, and opportunities to learn both in school and out. While digital equity is a challenge for all school districts, Dr. Beth Holland, Digital Equity and Rural Project Director for the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), points out that it becomes a very complex issue given the challenges within rural schools and systems. In a recent edWebinar, Holland along with Jennifer Austin, CETL, Instructional Technology Coordinator at Lac du Flambeau Public School in Wisconsin, Michael Flood, Vice President of Strategy at Kajeet, and Tammy Neil, Computer Science Teacher at Suwannee Middle School in Florida, discuss the unique challenges rural districts face when providing students’ online access to their education. Flood explained that when students don’t have equal access to devices and high-speed internet, it prevents them from having the same kinds of learning opportunities as their more connected peers.
Everyone has been to school and has their own image of what a classroom should look like. And depending on their background and experience, not everyone is supportive of tech-infused learning. Yet, 1:1 classrooms, BYOD, and tech-supported education are today’s reality. During the edWebinar, “Leading Digital Learning: Successful Strategies for 1:1 Implementations,” the presenters focused on how to get buy-in from within the school and across the community to improve chances for success and sustainability.
Discuss the challenges of digital equity in rural schools and systems. Each rural context presents different challenges and opportunities.
Schools are facing new challenges now that most learning involves the web—chiefly, the ability to do work at home or anywhere away from school grounds. While many are looking for ways to provide all students with a device, just having the device does not mean equitable learning. All students need to have the same access to WiFi, and thus the ability to use the device, whether they are at school or not. In the edWebinar, “Closing the Homework Gap: Digital Equity for All Students,” the presenters talked about the challenges and potential solutions to fulfill the promise of anytime, anywhere learning.
According to Davis, Fuller, Jackson, Pittman, and Sweet (2007), the definition of digital equity is “equal access and opportunity to digital tools, resources, and services to support an increase in digital knowledge, awareness, and skills.” In a recent edWebinar, Sarah Thomas, Educator, and Founder of the EduMatch movement, Nicol Howard, Assistant Professor, School of Education at University of Redlands, CA, and Regina Schaffer, Technology Specialist at Middletown Township School District, NJ, embrace this definition and explain that school districts need to consider four critical components in their drive to close the digital equity gap happening in K-12 districts and classrooms.
This edWebinar outlines real-life stories from teachers who have conquered complex equity challenges in their classrooms and from edtech coaches who have implemented equity-centered innovative professional development
Digital equity and access in the 21st century is crucial to students being able to compete on a global level. There are few places in society where technology is not utilized or playing an important role.