District frameworks ensure equitable access, content in classroom resources
- There are three main issues teachers confront when trying to select digital materials for all students, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12: finding enough time to design lessons and locate resources, creating assignments that meet learning requirements, and ensuring students don’t end up with gaps in their learning and have to spend the time and money to catch up in college.
- Chicago Public Schools has tried to address this issue with a digital readiness training model and resource collection called Skyline. And with that platform comes set rubrics: Anything added to Skyline must meet a set of requirements created by Tim Clark, the district's director of curriculum, instruction and digital learning.
- One requirement is that any resources in the system must support digital learning in classrooms, and Chicago Public Schools also updated its servers, as well as laptops used by students, to ensure all students have the tools needed to access resources online.
Digital technology is almost a given in classrooms today, whether that’s computers tapped to produce creative writing assignments or smart devices students use to access material. Schools and districts are constantly encouraged to expand their digital resources, told that teaching students how to navigate a digital world is crucial for their future. However, not every student has the same access as their peers outside of school.
While some students own smartphones or computers and have a robust online connection at home, others need to visit public libraries and cafés, or come to school long before classes start, to get online and tap into the digital material they need for class — sometimes for homework assignments due the very next day.
This difference in access must be considered by chief academic officers and those in charge of curriculum as they design lessons that lean on digital resources. Internet connections and access to digital tools are certainly important to consider, but so too is making sure students across the spectrum of ability can use them — including those with limited mobility or hearing or vision impairment. Making tech more inclusive is a necessary part of any resource discussion.
Selecting culturally relevant materials should also be part of the conversation, ensuring material is relatable to students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. If all students are able to connect, literally and figuratively, to classroom resources will ultimately create a more equitable learning experience and level the educational playing field.
- EdTech: Focus on K-12 CoSN 2019: K–12 Schools Address Digital Equity with Curriculum Framework
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