In March of 2020, districts across the US were mandated to close their doors for in-person learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many educators and district leaders hoped that this shift in daily instruction would be short-lived. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as school leaders and students had to embrace a new way of learning virtually. With many resources becoming readily available during that time, we were certain that regardless of where students chose to study, digital equity was a non-negotiable and students should be able to learn anytime, anywhere.
Terms such as ‘asynchronous day’ and ‘hybrid/remote learning’ quickly became household names, and the need for access and connectivity was as important as ensuring that students were attending school daily. Over two years later, educators are continuing to navigate this new normal while providing support for what we now know as the digitally inclusive learner.
The Challenge: Digital Inclusion
When we think about digital inclusion, one must wonder if digital learning supplants traditional methods of education or leverages it. In a recent talk with our Kajeet Chairman, CEO, and founder, Daniel Neal, we took a deeper look at what this means for students. While we understand that the need, access, and use are of importance, we’ve seen that in most cases digital learning leverages traditional methods. Educational resources for students to teachers such as digital online office hours for instructional support are a prime example of leveraging traditional methods. In fact, we’ve seen that when educational resources that are available to students in digital form, millions of students can gain immediate access at one time.
The Awareness: The Homework Gap
In 2014, FCC Chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, coined the “Homework Gap” as a phrase to address a particular part of student learning need. Over time, the Homework Gap has left impacted students at a measurable disadvantage compared to their peers, which can result in lower test scores, lower grades and—ultimately—lower graduation rates. When thinking about impact, schools have shown true resiliency in how they are working to close the gap. Prior to the pandemic, 15 to 18 million students did not have adequate access to the Internet. Since the pandemic, we’ve seen additional federal funding and tremendous efforts of educators, but there remain 10 to 12 million students without access.
The Resources: Digital Learning Tools
It is just as important to have great digital learning tools as it is to have access to connectivity. With the increase in these tools, students can have support for their individual learning styles. In addition, these resources can provide additional opportunities for students to be expressive in their learning. We’ve seen that 1:1 Chromebooks programs can help to bridge the learning gap for students who, prior to the pandemic, did not have equitable access to resources for learning. Digital learning tools like Chromebooks can make learning flexible and portable, allowing students to learn on the go. Group projects no longer require face-to-face interactions as these tools can give students collaboration on the go.
What are some of the benefits of using digital tools for learning?
- Help Level the Ed Tech Playing Field
- Teach Students to Collaborate and Focus
- Easy for Students (and Teachers) to Use
- Boost Tech Skills
- Affordable Tools for Budget-Strapped Schools
At Kajeet, we are driven by the mission of equity and fairness. We believe it is the right thing to do to ensure that students have access equally to all educational opportunities in a teacher-led and guided way. For additional information on how we can support your district, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.