CoSN’s new Digital Equity Dashboard is an essential tool for school and community leaders to ensure that all students have equitable access to devices, connectivity, and other digital resources. This Dashboard is brought to the general public by CoSN, developed by Innive, and made possible by our sponsors, Dell and Google.
Here are some general ways the dashboard can be utilized.
- Needs Assessment: Use the data to identify gaps in digital access and usage. This could be in terms of devices, high-speed internet connectivity, or other related factors. Needs assessment data could be used for strategic planning or school improvement plans.
- Tailored Interventions: Once gaps are identified within a school district, targeted interventions can be designed. For instance, if a particular region or group lacks sufficient broadband access, steps can be taken to address this specific need.
- Resource Allocation: Understand where resources, both in terms of technology and human resources (like training), are most needed. This can ensure that efforts and funds are directed where they will have the most significant impact.
- Stakeholder Communication: Share the dashboard with stakeholders – including parents, local businesses, and policymakers – to raise awareness about digital equity issues. This can drive community support and potential partnerships.
- Policy Recommendations: Based on the insights derived from the dashboard, make informed recommendations for policy changes at the school, district, or even state level.
- Grant Applications: Data-driven insights can strengthen grant applications. If a school or district is seeking funds for a technology initiative, having clear data that shows a need can be persuasive.
- Professional Development: Identify areas where teachers and staff may need more training or support. This could relate to using digital tools, teaching in a hybrid or online environment, or supporting students who lack digital access at home.
- Community Partnerships: Engage local businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations in partnerships to address identified gaps. This might include device donation drives, community Wi-Fi initiatives, or digital literacy training sessions.
- Monitor Progress: Regularly revisit the dashboard to track progress over time. Celebrate successes, understand the impact of implemented interventions, and adjust strategies as needed.
- Feedback Loop: Encourage feedback from students, parents, and educators about their digital experiences and needs. Use this qualitative data alongside the dashboard’s quantitative data for a more comprehensive understanding of digital equity challenges.
- Public Awareness Campaigns: Use the data to develop public awareness campaigns that highlight the importance of digital equity, potentially drawing in more community support and resources.
For maximum effectiveness, it’s important to approach the data from a collaborative perspective. Engage a variety of stakeholders – from teachers to students, parents to community members – to gain diverse insights and foster a collective commitment to digital equity.
CoSN’s advisory committee for Digital Equity has been meeting regularly to discuss ways this dashboard can be fully leveraged to improve access to connectivity, hardware, and tech support. This group is also concerned about the role of digital citizenship programs and best pedagogical practices related to educational technology in working toward digital equity in school districts.
In our conversations, committee members have offered some specific suggestions:
- The Dashboard can inform what types of programming are offered to students and families in libraries and community centers.
- The Dashboard gives a window into neighboring districts and communities and offers a learning opportunity to see how other districts are innovating around digital equity.
- Giving the Dashboard data to parents is also critical to getting feedback that will improve digital equity.
- By using the Dashboard, schools can give personalized support to families.
- The Dashboard can help school districts plan for unforeseen emergencies when students and teachers may have to move to remote learning. Districts will need to continue to ensure that students have devices and connectivity.
- The Dashboard also has profound implications for communication strategies within districts.
- Partnerships can evolve after examining data and hosting conversations. It’s essential for districts to partner with libraries, non-profits, and local institutions of higher learning to offer training and tech support to families.
- The Dashboard also offers an opportunity to eliminate digital red-lining. There may be highspeed internet access within a community, but only one provider and that provider is charging substantially for lower quality broadband.
How does a school district get started with using the CoSN Digital Equity Dashboard? Jeff Mao, Executive Director of VITA-Learn, suggested to colleagues at a recent CoSN meeting that districts should start by looking closely at their own data and vet it against what they already know about their districts. Does this data match what one already knows about their district? Are there surprises?
In the coming months, CoSN will develop resources and recommendations for districts on how to dive deeper into the CoSN Digital Equity Dashboard. We also will be gathering stories from districts that illuminate practical ideas for using this information effectively. Please reach out to Project Director Lucy Gray at email@example.com if you have any questions, feedback or stories to share about how you district has used the CoSN Digital Equity Dashboard.
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Watch the recording of the Digital Equity Dashboard Webinar.
Author: Lucy Gray, CoSN Digital Equity Project Director
Published on: September 12, 2023
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