Read The Room: Considerations for Classrooms and Digital Equity

Four students annotating on a SMART board for education at once.

The global pandemic has truly put digital equity into the spotlight.

Inequitable access to online resources, economic constraints, and varying degrees of digital literacy have challenged how we create inclusive spaces for learners. To combat these barriers, new US stimulus funds are helped districts purchase new technology to better help vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.

Those who have benefitted from greater technology use in the classroom have reported measurable improvements to their student’s outcomes. This can be seen in a recent UNICEF report, as well as coast-to-coast across the United States from our own case studies:

Access is just the start of the equation. Populations can still miss out when technology isn’t implemented properly. To assist with this, our team has put together two new resources for schools that are looking to build fair, inclusive spaces for learners to collaborate – whether it’s in the construction of new rooms or giving a familiar space a boost to the learning process.

What Is Digital Equity?

Equity is the lens through which we look at systemic barriers to achieving academic and personal potential. It differs from equality, where everyone benefits from receiving the same supports. Instead, digital equity ensures that different supports are provided to make it possible for learners to have equal access to quality of education, and that as new technologies emerge these learners are able to keep up with advancements without being left behind. The end goal of digital equity is to create a system where supports or accommodations can be removed entirely, removing the initial source of inequity.

Why Should We Care About Equity In Education?

The U.S. Department of Education has identified structural barriers, increasing international competition, and inequitable funding systems as primary challenges to education and digital equity. The impact of the pandemic has only highlighted these issues of inequality.

“America is not yet the country it strives to be… we know how to work toward the solution: access to a world-class education can help to ensure that all children in this country with dreams and determination can reach their potential and succeed.” – U.S. Department of Education

Why does this matter? When used effectively, education technology can contribute to equity by removing barriers, fostering meaningful connections between classmates, increasing engagement and digital literacy, improving lifetime gains for learner’s earnings, and even stimulate national GDP.

These benefits aren’t just for students, but educators too.

With improved, more equitable integration, districts such as Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools have been able to make data-informed decisions to track assessment and consider what issues are occurring, and course-correct for immediate actions.

How Do We Achieve Digital Equity?

Taking steps toward equity requires that we look at the systems at play from a student’s perspective, which is exactly what our team has done for the Read The Room guide. The key intersections explored in the brief include solutions for accessibility, flexibility, integration, and affordability when building spaces for educational equity.

What tools work best for new school construction project? How can we implement technology and promote better outcomes for students? SMART has carefully considered how its out-of-the-box solutions can cater to diverse learner needs, and how proper implementation during the construction stage can save time (and improve outcomes) down the road.

SMART’s Read The Room is intended to help leaders and decision-makers understand how SMART interactive displays can support student outcomes, and save instructors time, when designing learning spaces that are optimized for the future ahead. In the package you’ll find:

  • The EdTech Equity Guidebook - A 4-part guide to constructing classrooms with education and digital equity in mind.
  • Interactive Display Checklist - A series of actionable considerations when building classrooms for equitable access

Download both resources in the package now and discover how technology can foster engagement while supporting a new blended and hybridized environment.

Don’t forget: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER I, II & III) can play a major role in the US stimulus funds that are available to states and LEAs. These funds can be used for key elements of education offerings and including education technology. Learn more about how they can assist you here.