Reich, J. (2019). Teaching our way to digital equity. Educational Leadership, 76(5), 30-35. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb19/vol76/num05/Teaching-Our-Way-to-Digital-Equity.aspx
Summary: Not only do we have a digital divide in our schools, reflecting inequitable access to technology, we also have what Reich calls a “usage divide.” This divide reflects the type of work that students are asked to do; are students using technology to create, or are they essentially completing digital worksheets? In more affluent spaces, students are not only asked to do more sophisticated work with technology, they are also more likely to be viewed as innovators. Reich contrasts this to the experiences of students on the other side of the usage divide, who are not supported in more enriching technological tasks and who are also more likely viewed as slackers or time-wasters if they do engage in screen time. This usage divide occurs between schools, but it also occurs within schools. Students in advanced tracks are often given access to more powerful technical learning opportunities.
Reich advocates for several practices to combat the usage divide. First, we need practices that support equity in all areas of education, but certainly in ways that support all students’ access to enriching curriculum around technology. Also, educators need to get to know their students’ interests and connect those interests to technology and careers that might apply to those interests. Educators must see these interests as assets. Technology must be integrated into required classes, not just electives where only some students get access. Finally, schools must audit their practices: who is experiencing an innovative tech-rich curriculum within and between schools? Those realities must be acknowledged so they can be better addressed.
Evaluation: Reich offers an important challenge to all schools and districts to reflect on the tech experiences they are providing for students, and which students benefit the most from those opportunities. As teacher librarians, we need to work for equity within and between schools, and Reich offers some helpful advice to get us started.