As I look back at the 2000-2001 school year when I was in the classroom, I remember that I was one of only handful of teachers that utilized an electronic gradebook. Other teachers thought it would take too long to learn and understand the software and others thought it would require too much of their lesson planning and grading time to consistently input grades into it. I also remember when I stepped into the new role of a building leader as a vice principal for the 2001- 2002 school year. The most sought-after electronic devices were Blackberry cell phones and newly released HP Jornada 728. In the role of chief academic officer/assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in the 2016-2017 school year, I challenged myself to find creative ways to ensure all 11,000 students in the district had their own Chromebook. Regardless of profession or role, every year there are new devices that people pursue to keep up with the perceived 21st century trends. This same feeling exists in educational technology regularly called edtech. Despite the changes in trends in edtech devices and programs, we can all agree that for whatever reason there are disparities between schools and districts that have led to a digital technology divide.
The teachers in the classroom experience the greatest level of use of edtech tools directly with the students. In many cases, students have begun teaching the teachers on how to utilize new tools and training them on how to implement them into the instructional day for better integration. Even after the world required us to pivot to fully virtual learning, there are still schools with little to antiquated technology, teachers utilizing paper and pencils for all or most instruction and homework, lecturing from the board, limiting the learning to the textbook and the list goes on. Additionally, some of these teachers receive minimal technology training.
School leaders are challenged with decreasing budgets to purchase new devices and send teachers to edtech workshops to help build their knowledge base. The district leaders struggle even more with budgetary obscurities which impact their district’s technology infrastructure, which then trickles down to the school leaders, classroom teachers and ultimately to the students.
As the CEO of GOMO, I made sure to communicate and display our company commitment to support PK-12 school districts. I challenged myself with designing experiences, which will benefit teachers and school and district leaders with edtech experiences that will directly and indirectly benefit students. As a result, I offer the following statement for the educators to consider; the 21st century school district, school or classroom are not limited to tools and devices. It is a mindset.
Despite the challenges that may continue to exist due to the digital technology divide, GOMO seeks to help decrease the gap. Digital equity can be resolved when administrators ensure their systems and adult educators are equipped to address the needs of all students. The journey can seem longer for some than others. However, it is journey we must travel when we truly believe that we exist to help all students learn and achieve.