Giving Compass' Take:

At a recent symposium convened by Capital One in Plano, Texas, researchers and practitioners discussed how local leaders could utilize technology and data to create more opportunities in education, the workplace, and local inclusion initiatives. 

• What role can local philanthropists and donors play in funding tech innovation for community problems? 

• Read about the ways to maximize impact with new technology. 

Understanding how technology and data could alter our lives and bridge societal divides is a critical first step in harnessing innovation for positive change. But putting that understanding into meaningful action is the next, and harder, step.

At a recent symposium convened by Capital One in Plano, Texas, practitioners, researchers, funders, business leaders, technologists, and other stakeholders discussed ways local leaders can harness technology and data to increase access to opportunity.

“It’s not whether this will happen. This is the world, hybrid learning,” said Shayne Spaulding, a principal research associate at the Urban Institute. “How do you do it well, and how do you support educators and students in benefiting from this technology?”

Local policymakers and educators must embrace this hybrid learning model and consider its impacts on the quality of education and instruction, who has access to these courses, and what the outcomes are for students who pursue online learning. They also need to consider shifting student demographics, as nontraditional students (such as students who are older than 25, have children, or work full time while pursuing higher education) now make up 75 percent of postsecondary students.

As technology becomes more central to how we learn, how we work, and who we are as a society, we risk further marginalizing communities that do not have access to this technology. Job categories that are also more likely to be automated currently employ a disproportionate number of Latinos and African Americans.

As data are increasingly deployed to understand and solve problems, creators and users of data tools must ensure these tools do more good than harm. Some practitioners and institutions are leveraging technology and data to understand what is driving outcomes of interest.

Read the full article about technology and data for better opportunities by Aaron Shroyer, Solomon Greene, and  Emily Peiffer at Urban Institute