Students expect easy and immediate access to technology tools and high-speed internet in schools, and recent research shows that 99 percent of school districts are offering enough bandwidth to support digital and mobile learning in classrooms. But the digital equity gap isn’t so easily solved.
While many schools have reliable high-speed internet access, many students leave school and go home to unreliable internet access, or no internet access at all. This means that even if students have a school-issued take-home device, or a device of their own at home, they have no internet.
Some districts are hoping to close this digital equity gap by giving students take-home Wi-Fi hotspots with filtered, district-provided internet access. Kajeet‘s SmartSpot is one such example. Kajeet’s SmartSpots are filtered mobile hotspot devices designed to give students safe wireless internet connections. Kajeet partners with five major U.S. wireless networks to offer coverage.
Leaders in New York’s Beekmantown Central School District wanted to push instruction in new directions, and solicited participation from teachers across the district. Gary Lambert, the district’s director of 21st century learning, says the district team expected 10-15 volunteers to sign up for the digital literacy initiative, but nobody was expecting nearly 40 teachers to volunteer that first year. Participation grew to about 95 percent of district teachers.
The initiative, which is in its fourth full school year, promotes the use of technology when appropriate, when it offers something new and different, and when it contributes to learning in ways that wouldn’t be possible without technology, Lambert says.
As the district built its digital literacy initiative, educators knew there were important puzzle pieces that needed to be in place to ensure the initiative’s success. One of those puzzle pieces was a hard look at digital equity.
How 2 districts are tackling the digital equity gap
The eSchool News Digital & Mobile Learning Guide is here! It features strategies to help you effectively use digital and mobile learning resources, along with tips to support digital and mobile learning initiatives. A new eSchool News Guide will launch each month–don’t miss a single one!