District Administration January 2020 - 42

Closing the digital divide

DISCUSSION DAYS-During districtwide professional development programs at Troy City Schools in Alabama,
educators receive training on best practices to improve digital equity and share experiences as to what forms
of ed tech are succeeding in the classroom.

technology. For example, they can expand their classroom walls.
"My husband is a middle school
earth-science teacher-middle school
earth science, maybe not the most interesting subject," Doersch says. "But when
they can use their devices to confer with

a scientist who is standing on an ice field
in Canada, that is opening the world to
them."
Using technology to create engaging
and more personalized learning is a big
step toward achieving equity. And that
approach, of course, starts with profes-

DATA ASSIST
To improve digital equity, district technology teams should continually use
data to align apps, tools and services, and to determine return on investment, says Zach Desjarlais, director of instructional technology for Vancouver Public Schools in Washington.
"Often, we'll look at a product that's not being utilized; it may have been
purchased year after year, but when we look at the data, it may have 7,000
licenses but only being accessed by 3,000 kids," says Desjarlais.
Regardless of whether the lack of use is a training issue or a poor user
interface, he advises, district leaders need to be proactive and either
encourage use or pull the plug and find a tool or practice that does work.

42 | January 2020

sional development.
On districtwide training days in Troy
City Schools, Anderson and guest instructors cover best practices for digital
equity and ask teachers what technology
is working in the classroom. Teachers can
also receive extra assistance with ed tech
through after-school training or during
planning periods.
Moving the needle
Vancouver Public Schools in Washington offers individualized PD to improve
teachers' use of ed tech, says Zach Desjarlais, director of instructional technology.
"In an elementary school, for example, you may have 30 teachers, so you're
going to have 30 different readiness levels and experiences," says Desjarlais. "So
how do you set expectations in understanding a common goal with that group
and move them forward?"
The PD's skiing theme allows teachers
to identify their ability level, from a beginner's bunny hill to an advanced black
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District Administration January 2020

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