Giving Compass' Take:

• Educators can help level playing fields for students during this time by utilizing edtech tools and helping support the students that use them.

• What other ways can edtech tools help tackle the digital divide that is now exacerbated by COVID-19? 

• Read more about equity in education during the pandemic. 

The shift to remote learning to stem the coronavirus pandemic revealed enormous disparities among students in terms of access to Wi-Fi and digital devices, as well as the ability to learn the technology needed to complete class assignments.

But despite these inequalities there are ways teachers can help level the playing field for students during this time. The first and most obvious is providing each student with Chromebooks and hotspots, which is what my district, and many others, have now done.

The other main solution is ensuring students have support at all times. Along with synchronous learning — when the teacher and students are all in a live online session at the same time — a good proportion of remote learning is made up of asynchronous lessons, when students work on a project on their own or view a prerecorded video. During the latter, the teacher may not be available to respond to their questions right away. And many parents are working and aren’t able to provide hours of sustained attention to their child’s schoolwork during the day.

Instead, teachers can provide this support with tools that help students while they are learning on their own as well as provide ways for them to collaborate and connect with one another.

One tool I use often is Screencastify, an extension that can be added to the Google Chrome browser. It enables me to record video messages for my students. Video conferencing apps such as Zoom or Google Meet are helpful in connecting students as if they were all in the same classroom. But with Screencastify, students and their parents are able to watch and re-watch my videos as needed, so that when the workday is over and their child is completing an assignment, the parent can refer to the video for help if needed.

Read the full article about embracing edtech for all by Jennifer Damitio at EdSource.