5 Ways to Combat Lack of Student Access to Technology
Technology is becoming more and more prevalent each day, and I don’t just mean smartphones and Airpods. The use of technology in education has grown significantly, helped educators personalize learning, and make their learning more student-centered.
But, we can’t forget that although technology in education has become more common, that doesn’t mean that it is universal or that everyone has access. According to our State of Digital Learning Report, lack of student access to technology at home remains a top concern for teachers, with student access to technology at school also making the list a bit farther down.
We decided to ask real-life educators how they’ve tackled this challenge. Check out the responses below to hear about their experiences with this issue and what improvements they’ve seen since implementing certain strategies. You might just get an idea that you could use in your own classroom or school. Don’t forget to follow all of our awesome contributors on Twitter as well!
How are you or your school combating lack of student access to technology at home?
Steve Wills, Business & Information Technology Teacher at Random Lake High School, WI
Students are allowed to take their school devices home. Households without internet service can request or check out with our library internet portals or hubs they can use. The internet service provider in our area is also working with these households to offer discounted services for the students.
Students are gaining access to technology. We are seeing students being able to complete activities in the comfort of their home and not need to leave to complete work or require the teachers to create alternative activities. Student learning is improving. We are also seeing these students become more comfortable using technology in the classroom, which also improves their scores and their understanding.
Tiffany LoSasso, MyTech Digital Coach at Denver Public Schools, CO
The schools I support are a part of a grant program called MyTech, which provides student devices for all students to keep throughout the year. Students pay a flat fee of $20 (with fees for device loss or damage) and can sign a waiver if they cannot afford that. Students can also request a free hotspot with 3GB per month based on their needs.
Other than extreme cases, we have seen a dramatic increase in student success. Students are able to access resources whenever they need without any drawbacks. Students can complete their homework anywhere and cannot use those excuses anymore. Plus, we are working to close the gap between our haves and have-nots because everyone is given the same opportunities and support.
Evon Zundel, Technology integration Specialist at Bethlehem Area School District, PA
At the secondary level, we have issued each child a Chromebook (1:1) and provided Kajeet hotspots to those who do not have internet access. If a family has access via a smart phone only, they would receive a Kajeet hotspot. In addition, our administrators have worked with community partners to make them aware that students will have Chromebooks. Many of these organizations have agreed to provide free internet access to students from our district.
Students take more ownership of projects they are creating for their classes. Students are visiting these community partners more than in the past for homework help. Students are more aware of what they need to do in order to be successful since they have access to learning tools anytime, anywhere.
Matt Adam, Teacher at McHenry High School #156, IL
Students have 1:1 devices. For families without WiFi at home, we have partnered with local businesses to advertise their free WiFi. (Such as Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, etc.) The school has extended hours before and after school for students to work on materials in the building as well.
Improved student completion of work completed outside of the class period. Before the WiFi issue was addressed, some students had trouble completing work in class or in the building. Opening up the Wifi access has helped these students stay connected with their online materials when away from the building.
Sean Coffron, Instructional Technology Specialist at MCPS, VA
Students are given access to a computer throughout the day and given a number that can be used to install an application on their home computers that allows them to access resources.
Students are more likely to be engaged in the lesson and have an opportunity to learn on their own terms. We have more differentiated approaches and approaches that involve parents and students families because now they have access to the same resources that students have through the application. Additionally, teachers use Schoology to connect with students' families using a variety of different resources through a third-party vendors and, of course, using Schoology updates and conferences.
We hope these ideas help you tackle this challenge that you may be facing. Make sure to let us know on Twitter @Schoology if you have any other tips to share, and joing the Schoology Champions Program to have the chance to participate in interviews like this one!