Sunday, September 19, 2021

Closing the Digital Divide with an Emphasis on Learning

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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.


  1. Your post about internet connectivity and its influence on education was very interesting. I'd like to propose using the internet to integrate physical education curriculum and solicit input from teacher leaders on ways, means, value or detriments to this concept. Let’s begin with an understanding of the proposed result: integrated curriculum to enhance student learning via the internet. Danielson positions integrated curriculum as one of the most powerful opportunities for students and teachers to connect areas of learning versus learning coursework separately or in silos (2006). Integrated curriculum implies that students will transfer knowledge across subjects and improve learning experiences. Is physical education a platform to foster curriculum integration? Can it be done via the internet and remote learning? Educators have difference opinions on the value of physical education (PE) in schools. Some believe it stimulates the mind and body and fosters improved learning and others think it is a waste of time. As a PE teacher, I know first-hand the value of this subject and the impact it has on student learning and their lifelong integration. I believe that every subject can potentially be integrated with PE. To accomplish more integration, teachers need to have similar views and concur with a collective effort. One model to follow was published by Charlotte Danielson, who outlined as school organization and structure matrix that encourages teacher leaders to work together to create collaborative schedules and projects (2006). In my opinion, utilizing the internet and integrating PE with different subjects could be effective and improve learning outcomes. The pandemic did influence students being able to gather and participate in activities. As learning continues with remote stations, PE can be a fun and engaging topic to inspire students to not only use the internet by watching videos and linking via zoom, but also open opportunities for all teachers to collaborate on multiple subjects. Ok, so what do you think? What suggestions, ideas, barriers, or opinion can you provide to help influence change and enhanced learning through integrated physical education curriculum via the internet?

    1. I don't have much to add as I agree completely with you. In order to scale PE and tech it is important to bring to light the emotional and academic benefits as well as physical.

      In this post I highlight the importance in relation to learning.

  2. ....and in this post there is an example of integration during remote learning

  3. I appreciate your comment about also bringing into light the emotional and academic benefits as well as physical. According to research by Kaittani, the individual that has their mind and body in balance is also a person that is viewed as a more complete individual (2020). There is no doubt that within the PE environment teachers can address not only the physical but the emotional and academic benefits of learning. Integrated curriculum can reach more students when its taught using different types of learning styles (Hatch, 2004).