Now that many students have devices and access to technology, educators and school leaders must work to bridge the digital divide through equity of use. If students are not exposed to technology and taught how to use it, they will fall behind their peers.
“Educators need to make sure that signing in is a really easy and seamless process,” says Highfill. “Once everyone is connected, the first thing I have to teach the students is to share their screen.”
This not only helps her problem-solve with students, she says, but also helps students take a more active role in their learning. Students will find new ways to achieve a goal or manipulate technology and can show the class – and the teacher – how they did it by sharing their screen. “You empower them and put them in the role of a teacher,” Highfill adds.
What are the benefits of technology for students?
With technology, schools can support all students. There are approximately 60 elementary students and nearly 250 high school students enrolled in the Pleasanton Virtual Academy. “I am thrilled that our district has invested in this investment,” says Highfill. “We are a public school virtual academy. They have invested in a quality virtual academy to meet the needs of all students.
Even students learning in an in-person environment use technology in their daily lives. Bringing it into the classroom gives them the opportunity to learn how to use technology in a meaningful way.
READ MORE: Integrate digital citizenship themes into teaching and activity planning.
“If you have the skills and know how to search and find information and discern whether that information is true or not, it will not only help you in school with your schoolwork, but also in life in general,” Lim says.
“I watch the kids, and they’re very addicted to their devices,” says Highfill. “So this is my new teaching point: how can you follow a digital diet and how can you identify when technology isn’t doing good things for you?”
Highfill says whenever there is concern about bringing technology into the classroom, educators should use it. “We need to teach students to take care of themselves if they use technology,” she says.