Closing the Digital Divide at the METC Conference

I attend a lot of education conferences. We see these as an effective way of staying abreast of needs and trends in schools.

We’ve started attending smaller, regional conferences, where we’re more likely to be able to speak with teachers and site administrators, the very people whose needs we’re hoping to meet with our “data verbalization” software.

This week I attended the Midwest Education Technology Community’s annual conference in St. Louis. I met dozens of educators, all working overtime to use technology to improve educational and social outcomes among their students.

I was delighted to participate in several formal and informal conversations about the Digital Divide – or, Digital Divide 2.0, perhaps, as these discussions went beyond devices-for-everyone. We explored and debated digital citizenship, data use in diverse student communities, the Digital Divide among teachers, and a host of related topics.

We touched on making data available and useful to teachers, but that’s an aspect of the discussion that I believe merits much more attention. I understand: serving diverse student community requires huge resource expenditures, not to mention a ton of teacher effort. But we can do better: we can make it easier for parents from low-income communities, or those who don’t speak English, to understand how their children are performing in school, and how they can support that performance.

Of course we feel that Spotlight’s approach to engaging parents, delivering data-rich, yet easily-understood mobile videos that speak their language (literally), is a key aspect to solving this challenge. But we’re happy that we’re part of a broad range of tools going to work on parents’ behalf.

At these conferences, we see an “anything and everything” approach being implemented. Sometimes that’s a bit messy, but we’ll take it – certainly over a lack of concern.