Apr 07 2021

K–12 Leaders Can Work with Local Governments to Address the Digital Divide

Governments need a clear understanding of schools’ educational needs to provide necessary resources.

The digital divide is an unrelenting problem in K–12 districts across the country. Students lack the connectivity and devices they need to succeed, and educators are struggling to provide meaningful learning environments without these tools. While there is no easy solution to digital inequity, there is help if K–12 leaders know where to look.

State and local governments have resources available for their school districts, and great partnerships can be forged when there are clear lines of communication between the parties involved. District administrators can and should work with government leaders to close the digital divide.

How Can School Districts Make Their Needs Known?

Communication between the school community and the local government is essential. If district leaders haven’t already, they should establish relationships with their mayors and other town officials. Attending town hall meetings is also a good way to advocate for resources and to make a district’s needs known.

School district staff members should make their priorities clear. There are many components to digital inequity, it can be hard for local governments to know where they can provide the most support. At the state level, it can be even harder to know what K–12 districts need or how to meet those needs.

Another component in accessing resources is stewardship. Who is taking the steps to put these plans into action? Sometimes, having a third party involved can help leaders delegate next steps and achieve their goals. For example, in Maryland, CDW•G helped schools work with their local governments in Howard County and Baltimore County to get students online.

RELATED: Technology in the classroom promotes equity in education.

How Can Community Spaces Help Close the Digital Divide?

In addition to providing financial resources to schools, local governments can help close the digital divide by offering space that schools need. When schools made the quick transition to online learning last year, leaders discovered that connectivity was a major concern.

Some locales solved this problem by creating public Wi-Fi hotspots where students could get online. Governments aided this effort by adding access points to public buildings, such as city halls and libraries. This solved the connectivity problem and gave students a space where they could work safely while socially distanced.

Other school districts found that they didn’t have the physical space required for one-to-one device deployments. Working with their state and local governments, some schools used public spaces such as community libraries for these initiatives. This allowed IT leaders to unpack the devices in a spacious, safe location, and it allowed students’ families to pick up the devices more easily.

There are many factors that go into closing the digital divide. Through funding, donations of space and other resources, school leaders can leverage their government relationships to take the necessary steps toward equity.

This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.

[title]Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

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