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.
For now, here are some of the highlights from May:
Sometimes the 20% can be difficult for rural remote schools. Smaller district might struggle.— Allen Pratt, Ed.D. (@PrattAllen) May 30, 2019
A2) We saw possibilities for blended & #onlinelearning but little widespread support, so we created the Innovative Educator Prize to help teachers & schools close achievement gaps through digital learning.— FBOL (@FoundationBOL) May 30, 2019
(Applications are due by 6/14! https://t.co/WIKRgBgSLF) #futureofschool pic.twitter.com/0Hz2NbpBy8
A2. It's critical to define a vision and strategy around a school's technology infrastructure to make sure systems are aligned, stakeholders are informed, and the folks "on the ground" are ready to implement. Here are some strategies: https://t.co/7af2zwcIce #futureofschool— Learning Accelerator (@LearningAccel) May 30, 2019
Remember dial-up internet? 🐢— FBOL (@FoundationBOL) May 30, 2019
...for some students, it's still the only way they can access the web at home today. 😳
In 2019, the #DigitalDivide continues to impact a diverse array of K-12 students in communities across the country. #futureofschool https://t.co/FTzVAjf6bf pic.twitter.com/LbEfWYXeQA
A4: Fear of constant change. Many see the cycle as unachievable process. Not enough emphasis on the goals for using the technology and having access. It's unfortunate that selling the vision, in many cases, takes more time than implementing. #FutureOfSchool https://t.co/0SrbolH0bC— Jeff Renard (@vtvlcjeff) May 30, 2019
A5) I’m not an educator by trade, but the students in my life (stepdaughters in middle school) are often subjected to questions/unsolicited advice here at home re: why digital competency matters & their own comfort level w/devices, software programs, etc. #FutureOfSchool— Kristi DePaul 🌎🌍 (@reallykristi) May 30, 2019
A7. Communication, communication, communication! If educators can show parents what an impact connectivity can have, they can share the information they want parents to know. School ISN'T the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago, so it's important to show how! #futureofschool— Learning Accelerator (@LearningAccel) May 30, 2019
#RT @eschoolnews: RT @FoundationBOL: A7) By knowing & sharing its negative effects. #futureofschool— Rachelle Dene Poth (@Rdene915) May 31, 2019
"The digital divide is proving one of the most pervasive and stubborn challenges in U.S. education, and its effects can follow students from kindergarten… pic.twitter.com/FJOnrcuksH