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• At the 2019 International Society for Technology in Education conference, panelists discuss how educators can address the digital divide through teacher training and increasing accessibility to edtech resources.
• How can more districts support teacher training in education technology?
The integration of technology into education — which includes everything from online homework to digital textbooks — has led to increasing concerns around digital equity, said panelists at the 2019 International Society for Technology in Education conference. They also addressed the question of how educators can bridge the gap.
Digital equity, they said, is defined as the equity of devices, bandwidth, infrastructure and skills (also called the digital use divide) and affects learning for students from a range of backgrounds. Those from low-income or rural communities, those with learning or physical disabilities, and girls or minority students are more likely to be affected by this gap.
“There are things you can do to close that gap,” Tracy Smith, assistant to the superintendent for operations for Parkland School District in Pennsylvania, told the audience. Schools from her district began addressing the gap by distributing personal learning devices for every student in elementary, middle and high schools, funded in part by Title IV.
To make the internet more accessible for students, there are a number of options available for superintendents to explore. Everyoneon.org, a national nonprofit that works to close the digital divide by providing internet access, is one resource. Other resources include Kajeet Smartspot, which makes a mobile hotspot device, school bus hotspots that connect communities by bringing internet to neighborhoods, regional fiber networks supporting 5G, the federal E-rate program that provides funding for affordable broadband, and TechGoesHome.org, another nonprofit that prioritizes low-income and underserved populations.
School leaders also have a role to play in implementation by ensuring that teachers are trained to use the devices and the related software.
Read the full article about tackling the digital divide by Naaz Modan at Education Dive.