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Educational Equity in the Digital Age

Digital Participation Divide

Definition of equity of access for the purposes of this panel is that students should be able to learn whenever they want and whenever they want

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AWSA Bulletin Article - Jim Lynch and Tammy Gibbons - update and baseline


Leadership Book - Tom Murray and Eric S

Will, fill, skill


Equity and inclusion


Equitable Access ISTE-- use with FR language

All students, teachers, staff and school leaders have robust and reliable connectivity and access to current and emerging technologies and digital resources.


What is it?

To bridge socioeconomic gaps and truly support digital learning for all students, an initiative must ensure sufficient bandwidth and connection speeds to allow learning and teaching to occur anytime, with limited interruptions resulting from infrastructure problems. But equitable access means more than simply providing devices and connectivity. It also means giving every student the opportunity to learn from teachers who understand how to use technology to both enhance learning and create quality learning experiences for students with special needs.


Wisconsin Connections

WDLP, Future Ready - student learning goals

ESSA Equity driver for district planning and budgeting - collaborative leadership and shared ownership

Addressing achievement gaps and implementation of the ITL standards - focal resources

Literature Review Digital Equity Lens to Allow for Classroom Practices


Stanford Paper - instructional focus

Empowered Learning Lit review

ISTE Digital Equity

IES Research, ESSA

CoSN Equity Toolkit

Future Ready Leadership competencies - ??


UDL initiatives


Edutopia resources


Getting Smart - 10 Strategies to Support Digital Access And Equity



The standards are designed to be integrated into the various content and skill areas of the school curriculum. The focus is on learning with information and technology rather than learning about information and technology. This integration will be varied and diverse based on the curricula of individual schools and school systems. The reflective dialogue will occur in school districts among administrators, curriculum directors, library media specialists, technology coordinators, educators, instructional coaches, parents, students, and community members as each district adopts or modifies these standards and integrates them into the local instructional program for students.


Wisconsin defines Information and Technology Literacy as “the ability of an individual, working independently or with others, to use tools, resources, processes, and systems responsible to access and evaluate information in any medium, and to use that information to solve problems, communicate clearly, make informed decisions, and construct new knowledge, products, or systems.” The Wisconsin Academic Information and Technology Literacy standards are an important foundation to prepare students to be college and career ready.


Essential Conditions for Digital Learning


4 Part Blog entry around the 4 goals of student learning in WDLP

# 1 equitable


Equitable Access


Recommendations in all areas focus on providing equitable access to technology for all students, learners, and educators across the state. This includes Internet connection speeds and infrastructure support that allow learning to occur anywhere and anytime. Access to high-quality digital resources, virtual instruction, and technology-enhanced learning—supported and aligned with Wisconsin’s academic standards—must be ubiquitous.


WDLP/future ReadyPlanning Connections related to your instructional vision, access to resources, and classroom opportunities to provide equitable learning opportunities for all students


Explore the Issue: Digital Equity Resources


All too often, learners with diverse learning needs—and particularly those living in poverty—experience educational “opportunity gaps,” in the form of lower expectations from adults and less access to effective teaching and rigorous course work. Although schools are making progress towards providing equal access to technology, access alone does not guarantee that students of all backgrounds and abilities have equal opportunities to learn. The promise of technology depends on creating ongoing opportunities for educators to continuously improve their instructional practice.



Future Ready collaborative leadership

Key competencies

Collaborative leadership and shared ownership of equity topics



Digital Equity is focused on

ESSA, instructional digital equity as the driver

effective budgeting & financial resources

digital citizenship and social emotional learning connections

securing instructional learning environments

digital leadership development & integrated


Equity is not

1:1 program and device to every student



Equity needs to include

Access to digital content and literacy skills, unbigqious internet access and appropriate speed (metric is usually can they view a Youtube video), device dedicated for student school use (content)

1. Computing devices—Many students and parents have a smartphone, yet it is tedious and, for some, impossible to read, write, and interact with several digital learning resources. Limits on family data plans can be an issue as well.

2. Broadband access at school, home, and within the community—It’s imperative to have access to learning resources provided on the Internet.

3. Services to ensure community members have digital literacy skills—Students and parents need basic skills on how to connect with pertinent content, interact with others, and how to search for and find needed resources.


Community and stakeholder understanding of district vision of equity



Digital Equity


Note - WI Date


According to a 2016 ACSD/Overdrive survey, 80% of school administrators “are currently using digital content, such as e-books; audio books; or digital versions of textbooks, novels, or nonfiction titles in their schools or districts.


In a 2018 survey of 451 administrators from across the U.S., “98 percent of respondents indicating that students use devices at least once per week as part of the curricula and 79 percent reporting daily student use — of those devices Chromebooks (31 percent of respondents), iPads (26 percent of respondents), and Windows laptops (17 percent) are the most commonly-used devices.”


Instructional implementation and integration


When implemented thoughtfully, educators observe that technology can engage students, allow for personalized education and practice, and empower students to take charge over their own learning. Furthermore, technology can fuel collaboration and broaden knowledge in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.


Achievement Gaps - instructional gaps (IES Research and Article)


At the end of the year, many educators and policy makers discuss “achievement gaps” among our schools and students when in fact they should be discussing “opportunity gaps.” When communities fail to consider connectivity and access issues while expecting all students and families to operate in a digital environment, poverty and inequity are magnified. Indeed, perhaps stating “digital equity is the civil rights issue of our time” is not such a stretch after all.



Here are a few specific actions schools and teachers can take to ensure that their edtech choices are serving all students:

Ask questions of edtech companies, particularly around impact and their experience with different student populations. Apply a critical eye to studies posted on websites, looking for the problems discussed above.

Ask yourself critical questions about how and why something works: Is this tool truly scaffolding learning experiences, or is it a worksheet in a digital format?

Sign in as a student and go through all the core elements of a tool. Put yourself in the shoes of one of your higher performing students and one of your lower performing students. Where are the challenges? How can you solve them?

Follow your gut educator sense. If you’re worried that a tool is going to help some students at the expense of others, brainstorm differentiated scaffolds you can use to support students. If that’s not enough, consider other tools in the same space.

Pilot with a diverse set of students and pay attention to differences in how they are using, enjoying, and experiencing results from a product. Even short pilots (two to four weeks) can provide a lot of information.

Break down results data by relevant subgroups of students. Look specifically for unintentional widening of equity gaps.

These observations are not intended to push teachers to stop using tools they like—the goal is to make sure we’re not accidentally leaving a set of students behind.

Resources to Follow:

ISTE Equity PLN & Twitter @DigEquityPLN



Student Access to Digital Learning Resources Outside of the Classroom

An analysis of how the barriers and challenges such students face impact the instructional practices of educators; and


Recent legislation acknowledges the growing role that technology plays in students' daily lives. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides guidance to state governments on how to receive supplemental federal funding for public education. As part of the ESSA legislation, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is required to produce a report on the educational impact of access to digital learning resources (DLR) outside of the classroom


Future Directions

The purpose of this report is to present findings regarding student habits with DLR, the challenges and barriers faced by students who lack access to DLR outside of the classroom, how these challenges and barriers impact both students and teachers and their instructional practices, and what steps have been taken by state and local entities to address these challenges and barriers. The research for this report highlighted some areas that could benefit from additional attention or enhanced data collections:

Purpose of DLR: Data on how many students have access to DLR and what types of students tend to have access, both inside and outside of the classroom, are readily available. However, prior research has shown that having access to DLR does not uniformly improve students' learning experiences. As such, the field would benefit from more knowledge of how students use different types of DLR both inside and outside of the classroom, with a particular focus on how they are used for educational purposes.

Impact on Students: More studies could explore how students' access to DLR outside of the classroom impacts their participation, engagement, and achievement inside the classroom. Additional data could also be collected on the frequency and nature of DLR use outside of the classroom and its relationship to academic outcomes, since some prior research shows that moderate internet use was associated with higher academic scores than frequent or rare internet use.

Impact on Teachers: Student access to DLR outside of the classroom may impact the instructional practices of educators. However, existing research on potential relationships is limited. A larger body of research is available on the challenges and barriers teachers and schools face in adapting instructional practices to classroom situations than to developing students' digital literacy skills outside of the classroom. The available research on teachers' perceptions of disparities in student and parent internet access at home suggests that these perceptions may impact their instructional decisions, but more research is needed in this area.


Equity and Citizenship Advocate

Leaders use technology to increase equity, inclusion, and digital citizenship practices. Education leaders:



Ensure all students have skilled teachers who actively use technology to meet student learning needs.


Ensure all students have access to the technology and connectivity necessary to participate in authentic and engaging learning opportunities..


Model digital citizenship by critically evaluating online resources, engaging in civil discourse online and using digital tools to contribute to positive social change.


Cultivate responsible online behavior, including the safe, ethical and legal use of technology.


DPI Equity and Policy Toolkit - Reflective Questions - how to integrate reflective questions into your district collaborative planning and budgeting, ESSA lens of equity





Linda Hammond Darling. 2014. Using Technology to Support At-Risk Learners. (Accessed July 15, 2017)

This paper supports the vision of equitable access by all students to engage students with digital learning opportunities to help close achievement gaps. This research supports the student learning goals of the Wisconsin Digital Learning Plan (2016).

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Every Child a Graduate. (Accessed August 1, 2017).

CAST. Universal Design for Learning. (Accessed June 10, 2017).

To ensure equitable access for learning, Wisconsin has promoted the use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Educators who consider the core UDL principles of engagement, representation, as well as action and expression in the design of learning experiences can meet the needs of all students. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Universal Design for Learning (UDL) website contains additional information on connecting initiatives and instructional design resources.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Wisconsin's Framework for Equitable Multi-Level Systems of Support. (Accessed July 20, 2017).

These implementation tools are meant to be used as part of high-quality instruction within an equitable, multi-level system of support.

Share examples or exemplars with DPI to review and post - Google Doc


Professional Learning Opportunities



DPI Hosted - SEL and Digital Citizenship, October 24th

Future Ready Webinar

CESA 1 Institute for Personalized Learning - November



SLATE open

Pre-conference WDLC





Future Ready across curricular offerings, program development, integrated programming efforts

Shared Resources:


CoSN Digital Equity Initiative / Toolkit:

CoSN Annual Conference (Portland, 2019):

CoSN Community Network


Kajeet Links:

Homework Gap Page:

Homework Gap Funding Site:

Success Stories:




Vermont See Project:


ISTE Digital Equity Network Discussion Group:


National Education Technology Plan (last update 2017):

Future Ready (2014):


Pew Research:

2018 Survey:


Google Rolling Study Halls:


YouTube Videos:

Google RSH:

SoulPancake / 1MP:


Service Partners / Projects:

Kajeet (SmartSpot/SmartBus)

Mobile Beacon (Schools/Libraries/Non-Profits)

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS)

Sprint 1 Million Project (1MP)

T-Mobile EmpowerED

Consumer Programs (Low-Income Eligibility Criteria):

Comcast Internet Essentials

Spectrum Internet Assist

Cox Connect2Compete

AT&T Access

Microsoft Airband (TV Whitespace based, multiple local network partners)


Congressional Legislation:


National Center for Digital Equity (NCDE): (Including Guide to CRA Grantmaking)

Equity coaching  will, fill, skill

DPI  equity

Resources on Equity in Education Systems:

Designing for Equity: Leveraging Competency-Based Education to Ensure All Students Succeed (iNACOL)

Course Access: Providing Equitable Access to High-Quality Learning Opportunities (iNACOL)

College and Career Pathways: Equity and Access - Analysis of 2018 CRDC data on access to advanced courses (ExcelInEd)

Library inclusive services, Health and Library Broadband Coalition:


For questions about this information, contact Janice Mertes (608) 267-1054, Chad Kliefoth (608) 267-9289