The “Connected Generation” (“Generation C”) is defining its own learning journeys with mobile devices, apps, social networks, tablets, and personal tools to learn and play. How does school leadership decide the best avenue to secure digital tool equity and access to digital learning and teaching opportunities?
I still struggle as an educator when I say instruction and learning can be tied to one type of learning platform and one programmed curriculum. When I think about the technology tools, programs and ideas that have come and gone, it does make me wonder whether or not, ultimately, the Internet is the only equalizer for all students.
Why the Web as the Ultimate Equalizer?
In 1995, as a bright-eyed and open-minded classroom teacher, I attended an educator conference about this new topic called the Internet. The facilitator discussed ideas about how information via the Web could somehow influence classrooms, teaching, and the daily lives of everyone. In fewer than 20 years, the discussion has now shifted on digital education and learning: Instead of influencing learning, now if the web goes down, it is an emergency situation during the school day.
Today, why the is Web access the number-one goal for leadership? Simply stated, the vast amount of digital content and teaching are quickly moving education to a new era. The extension of learning opportunities beyond the classroom walls create rich interactive learning experiences — taking our students all over the world with tools that do not have to be app specific.
The Realities of Mobile Learning Access and Equity
The range of mobile devices and tools provides some interesting trends in education. Following the research about the use of these tools, access to only the Web via mobile devices defines daily activity — not only for educational activities but also for entertainment and daily communication tasks. The ability for educational leaders to recognize these trends to identify the access to the Internet via mobile device data plans versus at-home Internet access is essential. For schools looking at adoptions of tablets, the limitations for extended school must address the issue of Internet access as home via Wi-Fi or ethernet.
Six Strategies to Address Equity and Access at the Learners Level
- Student Access and Equity Survey Tool administered by teachers to create a knowledge base of in- and out-of-school access, personal-device access, and digital skill level to create accommodations as needed
- Alternative School Day Access Plans plans via checkout, extended lab hours, or community resources
- Rental or Lease Programs to supplement 1:1 or bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) programs
- Standardized Scope and Sequence of Skills and Strategies based on the six essential elements posted in my previous blogs that can be adapted to any technology tools and personal devices
- Adequate Professional Development in open-source, Web-based, and a variety of technology tools so educators understand strategies to eliminate any barriers to digital-learning experiences
- Web-based Software and Production Tools to promote collaboration, creativity, and public sharing of learning products
The reality of mobile learning and the value saving components of digital-learning content will move educational leaders forward. As cited in the National Association of Secondary School Principals article Using Mobile Devices in School NAASP Report, the incorporation of technology devices and freedom to learn whenever via access are essential components of 21st-century schools.
In my next blog, the physical design of schools and learning spaces to incorporate the learning needs of Generation C will offer some insight into how we can think differently about future of school collaborative-learning environments.