New School Leadership Toolkit Advances Digital Equity Nationwide

CoSN’s New Tools to Solve ‘Homework Gap’ and Enable All Students to Benefit from Digital Learning
Washington, DC
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Washington, DC (February 17, 2016) – To improve digital equity in school systems nationwide, CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) today launched the Digital Equity Action Toolkit for district leaders.

Introduced through CoSN’s new Digital Equity Action Agenda leadership initiative, the toolkit provides school system leaders with thoughtful strategies to address and narrow the “homework gap” in their communities.

“Ensuring equitable access to technology inside and outside the classroom is the civil rights issue of today. Alarmingly, many lower-income families cannot stay connected to complete homework assignments, and parents are unable to track their child’s academic performance,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “School leaders must work with their communities to  ensure digital equity and enable all students to benefit from learning that is increasingly delivered digitally.”

The new leadership initiative and version 1.0 toolkit provides a historic contextual background of the issue, explains the “homework gap,” details broader implications of household connectivity, and lays out steps school districts can take today. These steps include: survey the district’s connectivity and devices; engage the community; ensure sustainability through community assets; and consider outside-of-the-box solutions.

In addition, the toolkit presents six approaches that will enable school districts to strengthen their leadership and spark innovation in pursuing digital equity in their communities:

  • Partner with local businesses on Wi-Fi access for learning;
  • Maximize the use of existing assets;
  • Seek mobile hotspot and/or affordable LTE programs;
  • Leverage special broadband offerings;
  • Repurpose educational spectrum; and
  • Create a mesh network.

“The CoSN Digital Equity Action Toolkit is the best and most practical document I have seen on this topic,” said Vista USD (Calif.) Superintendent Devin Vodicka.

The new initiative further expands CoSN’s digital equity leadership. In partnership with the National Title I Association, CoSN previously produced the school district-level guide, Rethinking Equity in a Digital Era: Forging a Strong Partnership Between District Title I and Technology. Since last fall, Krueger has written a series of blogs on digital equity challenges, models, and partnerships.

The Digital Equity Action Agenda is made possible by Dell, Google Fiber, Kajeet, and Qualcomm Education, Inc., as well as education leaders and experts nationwide. Our supporters have shared their efforts to advance this initiative and digital equity nationwide below.

To learn more about the new Digital Equity Action Agenda leadership initiative and the toolkit, please visit: cosn.org/digital-equity.

CoSN 2016

CoSN will hold its 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, DC, on April 4-7. Themed Accelerating Success: Powered by an eLearning Culture, the Conference will bring together education experts and leaders from across the globe for conversations on how school systems can change their organizational cultures and embrace digital learning environments. Learn more and register at: cosnconference.org.

About CoSN

CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments. Visit cosn.org or call 866-267-08747 to find out more about CoSN’s focus areas, annual conference and events, advocacy and policy, membership, and the CETL certification exam.


From Our Supporters

Dell

“In today’s digital world, it is critically important to promote access to information and resources for student-led learning, as technology can transform how they learn as well as prepare them for a globally competitive workforce. We fully support the work of the Consortium for School Networking and we’re proud to sponsor the Digital Equity Action Toolkit, as it represents a collaborative, proactive effort to share ideas and best practices among school leaders to help resolve one of the most important issues in our schools today – access to technology.” – Jon Phillips, managing director, Worldwide Education at Dell

Google Fiber

ConnectHome is an initiative by the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development and the White House, to accelerate broadband adoption by families in public housing and help narrow the digital divide. Launched in 2015 as a demonstration project, it brings together private sector, nonprofit, and city stakeholders and resources in 28 HUD-assisted communities around the country. Google Fiber is one of several founding partners and has committed to providing free Gigabit connectivity to residents in select public housing authority properties, in each of the markets that Fiber serves.

Kajeet

“Policymakers and thought leaders in the field of education now universally acknowledge the existence of a severe Homework Gap that increasingly disadvantages millions of students as technology proliferates in our schools. The good news? There are solutions. Administrators and educators struggle with the Homework Gap every day. They need direction and resources to close this insidious gap. The CoSN toolkit provides a roadmap for assessing needs, involving the community and looking at best practices in other districts around the country in order to close this gap. Our mission at Kajeet is to make sure that those children who are left behind as vital educational resources have been moved online and out of reach, are pulled back into the fold of school and society.” – Kajeet CEO and Founder Daniel Neal

Qualcomm Education, Inc.

“As a leader in mobile technology innovation and sponsor of over 40 education trials since 2007, Qualcomm has seen the positive impact on academic performance and student engagement that results from providing on-going connectivity to students. Since learning doesn’t stop when the bell rings, we believe that safe and affordable connectivity is essential for all students so they can continue their studies and complete homework assignments when they are away from their schools’ Wi-Fi networks. We are excited to be working with CoSN on the Digital Equity Toolkit that will allow every single student to learn, collaborate and explore whenever and wherever they happen to be.” – Vicki Mealer-Burke, vice president, Qualcomm Education, Inc.

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