Part 2: Mitigating the layers of digital equity
In honor of this week's ISTE conference — a premiere education technology conference in San Antonio, TX— I want to discuss how schools, educators and IT can provide students with the best conditions for success.
Want to create more engagement with students? Giving them access to educational resources is a great way to open their minds and fuel their desire to learn. But don’t make the mistake of limiting such exposure to the classroom. Allow students to continue learning after school and on the weekend by adding additional layers of technology into their lives. More exposure in diversified environments is a key component to creating digital equity among students.
When home or out in the community, students have different levels of access to supplementary technology, such as powerful computers, printers, scanners and cameras. Additionally, their families and peers have varying levels of technological knowledge. Those with a strong understanding of technology can help the student in ways those with a limited understanding of the topic cannot. Coupled with inconsistent access to internet at home, a significant factor in learning, many students fall victim to the absence of digital equity.
Digital equity: What it is and why it matters
Digital equity is the concept of providing more students with equal access to quality technology tools, no matter where they are. Accomplishing a state of digital equity requires reaching beyond school walls to meet students with technology, including access to innovative affordance that doesn’t fully rely on the internet, in their home environments.
There’s an easy way for schools to begin addressing the issue of digital equity – let students take their devices home. Giving students constant access to the innovative tools they need is a critical component to helping them maximize their learning potential. Whether it’s out in the community or at a friend’s house, learning shouldn’t stop. Digital equity is the key to ensuring it doesn’t.
Schools are able to provide students with quality devices that are capable of innovative technology, with or without reliable internet access. It is all of these variables together that create a powerful, interconnected learning environment for students. This overall experience, which includes access to quality content, creative affordances and activities that foster critical thinking are the basics needed for digital equity. Unfortunately, they often disappear when a student goes home, and the equity gap continues.
Schools should have both near- and long-term plans to mitigate the lack of high-quality internet for those students without it at home and in their extended community. In the absence of ubiquitous internet coverage, the devices the school provides should be capable of matching the equitable learning experience by all students.
When schools begin to focus on providing the same technological experience for students both in and out of school, they will start solving the problem of digital equity and begin providing all students an equal opportunity to learn.
At ISTE? Stop by booth 3326 to discuss this and many more education technology topics. And look for my next post on supporting classroom management with technology.