Sustaining online learning during COVID-19

It's quite possible that remote learning will be necessary in the fall--here's how to navigate online learning during COVID-19

When Project Tomorrow surveyed students in 2015 about what they envision schools will look like in 2020, one student described school as being the place where there would be more … Read More

About the Author:

Eileen Belastock, CETL is the Director of Academic Technology for Mount Greylock RSD in Williamstown, MA, and also works with edWeb.net to write articles on their professional learning edWebinars. You can follow Eileen on Twitter @EileenBelastock.

What the pandemic has revealed about digital equity

Digital equity remains a persistent challenge in districts, and its problems are compounded by distance learning necessitated by COVID-19

Before COVID-19, home internet access for all students was a goal—one that some districts even thought they had achieved. But the pandemic and forced distance learning have exposed a plethora … Read More

About the Author:

Stacey Pusey is an education communications consultant and writer. She assists education organizations with content strategy and teaches writing at the college level. Stacey has worked in the preK-12 education world for 20 years, spending time on school management and working for education associations including the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group. Stacey is working with edWeb.net as a marketing communications advisor and writer.

How 1:1 provides digital equity during COVID-19

COVID-19 has shed light on digital equity gaps across the nation--here's how one district's 1:1 program helped it prepare for online learning

Digital equity, as defined by ISTE, involves “making sure students have equal access to technology like devices, software, and the internet, and that they have trained educators to help them … Read More

About the Author:

Dennis Gonzales is the technology director for the Ulysses Unified School District 214 in Kansas.

Did you know online learning can lead to equity?

Virtual learning opportunities break down the walls in our educational environment and help more students prepare for post-graduation success

Until all students are treated equally and given access to similar educational resources, we have little chance of achieving equality in K-12 schools. Ultimately, students must have the tools and … Read More

About the Author:

Jim Dachos is VP of Educational Partnerships at the nonprofit, The Virtual High School.

Technology in rural schools: Addressing digital equity

Digital equity is a challenge across the nation, especially in rural schools--but efforts are underway to increase connectivity

The goal of digital equity is to ensure that all students have access to devices, high-speed internet, and opportunities to learn both in school and out. While digital equity is … Read More

About the Author:

Eileen Belastock, CETL is the Director of Academic Technology for Mount Greylock RSD in Williamstown, MA, and also works with edWeb.net to write articles on their professional learning edWebinars. You can follow Eileen on Twitter @EileenBelastock.

3 ways to bring equity to STEM education

STEM education is essential even if students don't pursue STEM careers--here are some strategies to make it more accessible and equitable for all students

Progress for the STEM education movement must continue to improve, especially for students in underrepresented communities hard hit by COVID-19. We know that STEM-related education holds opportunities for students, but … Read More

About the Author:

David Tong is the Director of TGR EDU: Create.

Why I’m optimistic about bridging the digital divide

The COVID-19 pandemic brought disparities front and center--but there is hope that we can close the digital divide among students

Preparing for the unexpected is easier said than done – especially when it comes to education. Long-term school closures caused by a global pandemic were certainly not at the top … Read More

About the Author:

Daniel J. W. Neal is the chairman, CEO & founder of Kajeet, a mission-driven company he first began dreaming about in 1996. Kajeet is the category leader for providing the new, intelligent educational infrastructure students and educators need. Under his leadership, Kajeet has become the premier provider of wireless connectivity experiences that empower school districts to bridge the digital divide, while also helping enterprises and IoT solution providers make deployments faster, easier and more scalable.

Previously, Daniel served as CEO & vice chairman of VCampus Corporation and was part of the team that successfully took USinternetworking public. His early career was in finance and public service, where he worked extensively in local government and served as a senior staff member with the National Performance Review of the office of the vice president of the United States.

Daniel is a named inventor on 25 U.S. patents.

4 strategies to close the digital equity gap

The digital equity gap is wider than many realize—but there are ways to close it

According to Davis, Fuller, Jackson, Pittman, and Sweet (2007), the definition of digital equity is “equal access and opportunity to digital tools, resources, and services to support an increase in … Read More

About the Author:

Eileen Belastock, CETL is the Director of Academic Technology for Mount Greylock RSD in Williamstown, MA, and also works with edWeb.net to write articles on their professional learning edWebinars. You can follow Eileen on Twitter @EileenBelastock.

How equity strategies improve student outcomes

Looking at data from students and teachers can help pinpoint effective learning solutions and promote equity

Discussing and developing equity strategies can lead to significant improvements in student performance, and as Dr. Tyrone Howard of UCLA explained during a recent edWebinar, starting the process by looking … Read More

About the Author:

Robert Low has worked in educational publishing for more than 30 years. His experience ranges from editing and product management to online advertising and content development. He also works with edWeb.net to write articles on their professional learning edWebinars.

When the digital divide is made worse by a pandemic

As it turns out, the digital divide proves tougher for students with fewer electronic devices at home--and the COVID-19 crisis makes the divide even wider

About the Author:

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 through college. As if that’s not bad enough, the COVID-19 crisis, which forced students across the globe to learn at home while schools closed physical operations, made inequities even more apparent.

Students in schools all over the U.S. struggled to find existing or reliable internet connections, many didn’t have access to appropriate devices to complete online assignments, others waited for weeks until schools managed to organize device-lending programs, while still others had to share devices with siblings and, sometimes, parents who also had to work from home.

Related content: Family tech nights can narrow the digital divide

But these inequities existed long before a global health pandemic shed light on the connectivity and access struggle occurring in the nation’s schools and homes.

A study confirms that, despite efforts to close the space, the gap between students who have access to devices and the internet and those who lack it compounds equity problems within U.S. schools.

Research from ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning shows that underserved students with access to only one electronic device in their home may find it difficult to complete schoolwork. The homework gap, as it is frequently called, is particularly tough on low-income and rural students. Even when families have one device at home, that device is often a smartphone, which isn’t conducive to completing homework or doing research.

While the research is from 2018, not much has changed, signaling an alarming and frustrating lack of progress.

The report, “The Digital Divide and Educational Equity,” looks at the 14 percent of ACT-tested students who said they had access to only one device at home. It was a follow-up to the report “High School Students’ Access to and Use of Technology at Home and in School,” which examines overall survey results and results for selected subgroups.

According to the report, among students who have access to only one device at home:
• 85 percent were classified as underserved (low income, first generation in college or minority).
• 28 percent of students who have one device at home say that device is provided by their school–40 percent of those students have a laptop and 31 percent have a smartphone.
• 56 percent of students reporting access to only one device at home say that device is a smartphone.
• American Indian/Alaskan, African American and Hispanic/Latino students had the least amount of access; white and Asian students had the highest. For example, 20 percent of American Indian/Alaskan Native students have access only to a smartphone, compared to only 4 percent of white students.

Naturally, students with access to more than one device at home use those devices more frequently than students with access to only one device at home. Sixty-eight percent of students with access to two or more devices use those devices for homework, while just 48 percent of students with access to only a smartphone use that device for homework.

Of students whose parents have a college degree, the majority have access to more than one device at home; just 7 percent of this group have access to only one device and 3 percent have access only to a smartphone–a disadvantage of 15 percentage points for first-generation college students.

Various reports and research offer a few suggestions as school leaders hope to tackle the digital divide and the homework gap:
1. Expand device and internet access among those who lack them
2. Ensure all students have easy access to the applications they need for school-related activities via mobile technology
3. Look to instructional coaches, who, according to Digital Promise research, can play a key role in closing the gap and advancing equity
4. Look to other districts for examples and best practices
5. Think about unconventional ways to connect students to the internet, such as putting wi-fi on school buses

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