CoSN today released an updated version of its digital equity toolkit, titled “Supporting Students & Families in Out-of-School Learning.” The resource, which provides school leaders with strategies to help students and families who do not have adequate Internet access at home, includes a new section on how districts can partner with their local governments and communities to improve digital equity.
The Digital Equity Toolkit was developed through CoSN’s Digital Equity Action Agenda and is supported by FileWave, HP and Kajeet.
“The updated toolkit is a part of our commitment to support school leaders in bridging the digital divide,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “Digital equity is the civil rights issue of today. Students deserve the right to connect to learning resources anytime, anywhere, and this actionable resource helps advance that vital mission.”
“The use of online educational resources and the opportunity to develop digital literacy skills should not be limited to students in affluent neighborhoods,” said Susan Bearden, CoSN’s Project Director for Digital Equity. “Supporting digital equity is an important step toward ensuring that all students have access to a high quality education.”
“The digital equity toolkit is a practical guide for education leaders looking to address digital equity challenges in their communities,” said Diane Doersch, Chief Technology and Information Officer of Green Bay Area Public Schools. “As teachers incorporate digital resources in instruction, this guide will help educators ensure their students have the necessary tools for academic success.”
The U.S. Department of Education recently found that 80 percent of 8th graders reported using a computer at home for schoolwork on a weekday, putting students without home Internet access at a significant disadvantage. The toolkit delivers five recommendations for school districts to address this gap, including partnering with community organizations to create “homework hotspots,” promoting low-cost broadband offerings, distributing loaner mobile hotpots, installing Wi-Fi on school buses and building private LTE networks.
Geographic locale plays an important role in home-based Internet access – Internet access for students in rural areas is generally more limited than students in suburbs, cities or towns. With an added emphasis on community engagement, the updated resource lays out four steps school leaders can take to collaborate with local governments and their communities to take a broader, more holistic approach to digital access and inclusion. These steps are:
Assemble a team and develop a shared vision;
Assess existing community resources, gaps and needs;
Engage stakeholders and partners; and
Develop and execute a project plan.
The toolkit demonstrates local efforts in action through the stories of districts in rural, urban and suburban districts that are improving digital equity.
“Education has always been an equalizer for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. New technologies should advance that equality, not add new burdens to students who don’t have access. FileWave is proud to sponsor CoSN’s Digital Equity Action Agenda and Toolkit. IT Software can only support the technology. It takes all of us together to support the students,” said Tim Williams, VP Global Marketing & Product Strategy, FileWave.
“At HP, we believe that everyone, everywhere should have access to a quality education, and that starts with creating equal access to digital resources whether students are at school, at home or somewhere in between. HP is proud to support CoSN’s Digital Equity Initiative, which offers specific guidance on how school leaders can improve digital inclusion,” said Gus Schmedlen, Vice President for Worldwide Education, HP, Inc.
“School districts oversee 24.3 million student mobile devices. These devices are put into the hands of tens of millions of students and are becoming ever more deeply integrated into the processes of teaching and learning. Yet millions of students lack safe and equal access to the Internet at home for doing their school work. They are caught in the ever-widening ‘Homework Gap,’” said Kajeet CEO and Founder Daniel Neal. “As key elements of school continue to move online, we must consciously make digital equity a priority if we want students to succeed. The K-12 mobile environment is unique, and together we must ensure that all students share a level playing field, as well as the right tools to safely learn.”
By leveraging the toolkit, readers will also be equipped with a listing of non-profit organizations and federal programs that offer resources, technical assistance and capacity-building expertise for broadband expansion and digital inclusion efforts.
To learn more about the toolkit and CoSN’s Digital Equity Agenda, please visit: cosn.org/digitalequity.
Michael Kaplun, The Fratelli Group for CoSN, 202-822-9491, firstname.lastname@example.org
CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking) is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. For 25 years, CoSN has provided leaders with the management, community building and advocacy tools they need to succeed. Today, CoSN represents over 13 million students in school districts nationwide and continues to grow as a powerful and influential voice in K-12 education. Visit CoSN.org to find out more about CoSN’s focus areas, annual conference and events, advocacy and policy, membership and the CETL certification exam.