Bridging the digital divide is a monumental task. It begins with providing learners with access to devices and high-quality Internet. For all the challenges it has placed on school systems, the pandemic managed to close the gap in this area significantly. I watched some districts go 1:1 in a matter of days while also providing mobile hotspots for disadvantaged students. While this represents a good start, there is much more to the process if the goal is to impact learning. With access to technology, there needs to be an equal focus on supporting educators on how to use it in a purposeful way that leads to improved outcomes. Here is where Verizon is stepping up.
Connectivity is a lifeline to progress these days for students. Verizon is not only working to increase access to close the digital divide, but they are also providing critical support to improve learning. To that end, they recently launched Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, an amazing next-generation learning portal that is completely FREE! Highlights include the following:
- Standards-aligned lesson plans across an array of content areas: There is a great deal to explore here. Each lesson contains an estimated time for completion, materials, technology to be used, and appropriate grade level. There are also learning outcomes aligned to Common Core, ISTE, and Next Generation Science Standards. As I explored, I also discovered full-length courses that students can take.
- Augmented and virtual reality apps (AR/VR) – Engagement is always on the minds of educators. With these tools, students can dive deeper into concepts while also collaborating with their peers. Using the camera on a mobile device, augmented reality overlays images/media over the real world. It is a social experience, as opposed to virtual reality, where a single student would wear goggles that would obstruct them from their surroundings. There is so much potential for these tools to engage and empower learners.
- Professional development – Through a partnership with Digital Promise, Verizon Innovative Learning HQ provides self-paced courses that educators can take on topics such as remote learning, hybrid instruction, digital inclusion, and blended learning. If the relevancy of the topics wasn’t enough, there is also an option for educators to be recognized for their learning. A unique aspect provided by Digital Promise is the ability to earn micro-credentials for certain completed sessions. These asynchronous learning opportunities offer much-needed flexibility to educators. For more resources on remote and hybrid learning, be sure to check out my collection HERE.
As the world continues to change, learners need equitable access while educators require the tools and support to create powerful learning experiences. These disruptive times have taught us not to prepare learners for something but to prepare them for anything! To accomplish this task, they will need technology and the means to use it in a purposeful way that develops critical competencies. As I shared in Disruptive Thinking in Our Classrooms, learners need to be empowered to replace conventional ideas with innovative solutions to authentic problems. Hence the need to close the digital divide while making sure both learners and educators have the tools to support this goal.