The catch phrase "digital divide" often means different things to different people. Some commentators discuss how access is divided by age groups or by regions of the country. In education, observers have noted the differences between schools that have many devices available compared to schools that have few devices available. Additionally, many districts have high speed internet access while others still haven't arrived at that point yet. While these issues are compelling, an increasing challenge of this divide is appearing with respect to a student's capability of accessing the internet after school hours. In Beaverton Schools, Canvas has been adopted at the secondary level and students grades 6-12 have been issued chromebooks. Over the past two years, teachers have been integrating Canvas into their classrooms as a way to provide an organized platform of resources and opportunities for all students. For nearly all teachers and the majority of our students, connectivity has not been an issue. However, a significant number of our students do have problems with high speed connectivity outside of school and with completing their electronic projects, discussions, peer reviews, studying, etc. To address this challenge, Beaverton applied for and was awarded a hotspot grant from Sprint for high schools and has also received a grant from hot spot provider Kajeet for middle schools. To see how this can be a game changer for students, please watch the video below.
Hotspots are not the silver bullet for all digital divide issues. Other strategies that involve keeping school libraries open later, providing after school transportation, and fostering community partnerships also are important. With that said, our hotspot program is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to providing rich learning opportunities for all of our students.
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These blog posts will be compiled by the team to show our current interests, and what we are doing around the district!