|5a. Model and promote strategies for achieving equitable access to digital tools and resources and technology-related best practices for all students and teachers.|
My Digital Readiness project was the first step I have taken into closely looking at digital citizenship in our district. In a lot of ways our treatment of the topic has resembled this quote by Reuben Loewy who compares digital education to sex ed, “which entails a smattering of information about their reproductive organs and a set of stern warnings about putting them to use.” (Wong, 2018) Even that would be a good start if all students were receiving the same level of instruction and access to content. At this time, students are getting one lesson a year from the librarian. It is not, however, taught at consistent times of the year or necessarily tied to projects or situations that are happening in the classroom. It makes for a hit or miss feel to the digital citizenship instruction that students are receiving.
As to equitable access to instruction, four years ago we convened a group of teachers in our district to search for a tool that would allow us to better collaborate, organize and provide access to content and resources online and allow students to turn in work for teachers to be able to grade electronically. I led a year long process which ultimately resulted in our adoption of the Canvas learning management system. We had high hopes during the first year that teachers would see the advantages the tool provided in addressing equity of access to instruction and resources. I have since learned that adoptions are a 3 to 5 year process, especially if you are not going to mandate that teachers use a tool. As our district begins its work with Multi Tiered Systems of Support over the next few years, I believe that Canvas will provide the “consistent access” that is one of the 4 c’s of the model. It can become a place were students and parents can count on finding all the links, documents and resources they need to complete assignments and a consistent place to turn them in and view feedback. When we also adopted Office365, in the same year as Canvas, it also provided all of our students with access to free productivity tools wherever they had internet access.
Equity to devices and internet access, however, has been a challenging topic to address as a coach because we are not always in the position to direct the priorities of the district or the budget. As more and more of our teachers are requiring digital work and no longer printing paper copies of assignments it is becoming very obvious that we have a number of students in our district that have no access to computers or the internet at home. We have proposed a pilot for the last couple of years to provide some devices and hot spots that students could check out and take home. The pilot proposal has not moved to the top of the priority list but it is a conversation that needs to be had if we are going to ensure that all of our students have equitable access to resources.
Wong, A. (2018). Digital Natives, Yet Strangers to the Web. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/04/digital-natives-yet-strangers-to-the-web/390990/