Sunday, January 14, 2007

Resolution 2007 - Promoting Digital Equity

As you move forward in the digital age, take the time to notice who we might be leaving behind. How about adding digital equity to your 2007 resolution. Consider expanding the definition of No Child Left Behind to include “no child left behind in a digital age”. My 2007 resolution is to renew my commitment to digital equity and provide increased resources to teachers for bridging the digital divide in their schools.

  1. I resolve to update my collection of keyboarding resources and promote keyboarding skills in ALL students.

    Ignore those who tell you that we don’t need to teach this skill anymore because of the voice recognition technology or because today’s kids are on the computers so much they pick it up naturally. Those who use effective keyboarding techniques will build skills and gain increased productivity, while those who don’t will get further and further behind in their schoolwork. Don’t forget to include assistive technology options for students with disabilities.

  2. I resolve to know which students lack access to digital tools at home.

    Informally inquire about students access, so that you can provide solutions that help these students and their families. I make old keyboards available with keyboarding practice sheets AND teach students how to practice on a keyboard alone. I was surprised at the number of 3rd and 4th grade students who took me up on this offer (some of them have computers, but complain that other family members horde all the computer time). I know of at least one Vermont school that refurbishes old machines with Linux and open source software and makes them available to families in their district. Making parents aware of public library access to computers, or creating public hours for your own computer lab can increase access.

  3. I resolve to promote sensitivivity to lack of or slow Internet Access.

    Many communities still have only DIAL UP access. If you post documents online for parents, make sure that the families without Internet are aware of how they can also access these documents. Break the documents down for quicker download for dial-up users. For example , if your school’s program of studies is online, consider posting it as separate “chapters” or text only format for dial-up users. Using a free PDF maker can ensure that your documents are posted in a format accessible to all users. Consider differentiated assignments and resources to accommodate students with limited or no access.

  4. I resolve to revive the TechSavy Girls program and create new opportunities for girls to build skills and confidence in their use of technology.

    While it appears that most middle school girls have confidence and skills equal to their male counterparts when it comes to technology use, interest and participation levels decrease significantly during high school and college years. The ratio of girls to boys in high level computer classes has actually decreased during the past decade and hover around the 12% rate.

  5. I resolve to make Web-based and Open Source Software available to students to increase home access to digital tool.

    Our regional technology users group is exploring the use of more Web-based and Open Source resouces in our schools. In a series of parent workshops, we distribute “FREE” open-source software for parents who attend. One of our teachers is adding OpenSource platform productivity tools to his lab to increase students familiarity with these tools. This is also a great way to promote greater understanding of tech “concepts” and skills transfer.