May 2019 #futureofschool Chat Recap: Closing the Digital Divide

For most Americans, it seems that technology has taken over many aspects of life; the times when we functioned without a computer or smartphone can feel as if they’re ancient history.

Why, then, are we still struggling to bridge the digital divide in much of K-12 education? For our most recent #futureofschool Twitter chat, we explored this topic with Education SuperHighway, the leading nonprofit focused on bringing broadband internet to schools across the country.

Along with fellow educators, forward-thinking organizations and parents, co-hosts Amy Valentine and Education SuperHighway’s Alyssa Cubello led the chat to find solutions on how to bridge the digital divide. Participants shared their thoughts on the following questions:

  • How do you define today’s digital divide in schools?

  • What has your experience been with the digital divide in education, and what have you found MOST effective in minimizing it for students?

  • In your opinion, why has the digital divide in education persisted into 2019?

  • How do you help students feel more comfortable speaking up about a lack of access and/or tech skills in your day-to-day work?

  • How can educators emphasize the importance of connectivity in digital learning to parents, communities and policy leaders?

It became clear that the chasm between those with access and those without remains in districts across the United States. With limited funds in many school systems, efforts from organizations such as Education SuperHighway are key in order to ensure all schools have access to broadband internet. However, as participants identified, the digital divide further prevails due to a lack of communication. They emphasized the importance of recognizing the educational power of connectivity and edtech—not only for students, school systems and teachers, but for parents and policy leaders as well.

The digital divide is multifaceted, ranging from simple internet availability issues to students’ and teachers’ familiarity with and skill level related to technology. To close the gap, technologists, educators and policymakers need to first be fully aware of these discrepancies so that they can create solutions that comprehensively address them. What's needed are the kinds of tools from which all students stand to benefit, whether they're blended or online learning systems, software, or devices.

There was a consensus among participants that everyone, including students, must understand that being connected opens up opportunities for them. Mastering today’s digital learning opportunity is an integral part of being prepared for tomorrow’s work opportunity.

(Join us for the next #futureofschool conversation on June 27, 2019 at 6pm ET. In the meantime, check out the #futureofschool movement and share your K-12 education story!)

For now, here are some of the highlights from May:

👉Join us for the next #futureofschool conversation on June 27, 2019 at 6pm ET, and invite your friends & colleagues to offer their perspectives. In the meantime, consider sharing your story about K-12 education… listening to the community and elevating YOUR voice is what we're all about!

eventLisa Mullis