Digital Access

Digital Access (equal opportunity to technology) refers to the following:

Modeling Proper Use of Technology in Class
It is important that we model how to use technology appropriately in the classroom, from the computers and iPads already available, to any other smart device being brought into the classroom. Think about how you might introduce a new routine in Daily 5, or how you model and explicitly teach the routines in the classroom at the beginning of the year. By providing a direct instruction approach (teacher models – example vs. non-example / groups practice with guidance – independent practice) students have the opportunity to practice positive behaviour.
Creating a Contract
It is a imperative that students are held accountable for not using technology appropriately in the classroom. Creating a contract with students before any digital technology is used at the beginning of the year sets a standard. This includes physical damage to the technology, as well as any off-task digital behaviour. Students breaking such rules will lose privileges until such time that they can show themselves accountable again. I have found this is something students take very seriously, and when a student is caught, they will quickly try to make amends, and will very likely not break this contract again.
Equitable Access
This refers to schools and their communities, as well as the global concept of students having equal access to the internet (information). Many students in our local communities do not have the same access to technology that others do, which can lead to deficits in a student’s ability to have the same access to information and social interaction that others don’t.

Accommodations for ALL students
Often students with learning disabilities will have additional access to technology that will assist them to comprehend and/or express themselves to their true potential. I would argue that ALL students will benefit from the use of technological tools, whether they have a disability or not. The meta-cognitive tools that are accessible through digital devices give students the opportunity to better comprehend, and has the potential to activate deeper level thinking.
Apps such as Google Drive allow students to quickly look up a verbal or visual definition for words they don’t understand, which will put more emphasis on comprehension of the entire document. The ability to research any given word in an online article will pull up a lot of information that will give students the ability to follow their interests….

Authentic Integration Into The Classroom
Students using digital technology as a means of researching/voice to text/dictionary
Multiple apps that will support student learning (remedial math practice, flashcards) used during Daily 5 or math stations.

Background Literature

Is Your School Future Ready? (2014) – Suzie Boss provides a good overview of the issues surrounding equitable access to the internet in schools and in the homes across the USA.

Photo credit: CC Claudio Rocchini