Forging the way forward, by investing in affordable technology for families in need.
MANCHESTER, NH – Despite our collective access to technology, too many New Hampshire families stand on the wrong side of our digital divide, unable to access the information that is exchanged so freely today. Without access to computers, email or the internet, keeping in touch with work contacts can prove impossible. A day-long summit, the NH Summit on Digital Equity, will bring various assets from business, technology and politics together to develop and implement strategies for closing that divide and connecting more families together.
Robert McLaughlin, of New England College, will lead the summit and has been working with federal officials, philanthropists and others to secure the necessary funding needs to help cover the cost of investing in new and affordable technology for families in need. State leaders will join the summit at noon to announce details for how the plan will be implemented statewide.
“New Hampshire is the first state in the nation to mobilize local assets in the education, banking, political, business and workforce communities to create a workable and affordable plan to support systemic digital equity,” explains McLaughlin. “This program will make an incredible difference in the lives of families who currently have no consistent access to the technology they need to live, work and play.”
Below, from the National Collaborative for Digital Equity, a consortium based at New England College, the guiding principles of digital equity should be:
1. Systemic – providing equitable (free or low-cost) access to essential resources for digital inclusion, lifelong learning, workforce development and economic opportunity, including:
- computing devices
- multilingual tech support
- librarians skilled in guiding learners to high quality content and tools, keyed to their learning priorities
- low-interest financing even for families with weak or no credit so that, when devices are not free, they can afford to finance them and still support their families
- educational and productivity apps and software
- assistive devices and accessible instructional materials enabling those with special needs to participate fully in educational, economic and life opportunities
- open and “Deep Web” educational resources that are universally-designed
⇒Click the link for more details on essential dimensions for systemic digital equity.
2. Community-based – engaging culturally, linguistically and socioeconomically diverse local leaders who represent key stakeholder groups (e.g., municipal, educational and business leaders, librarians, health and workforce development agencies, libraries, affordable housing, human services).
3. Evidence-based – designing and implementing local strategies and resources that draw on research-based practices.
4. Capacity building for the community’s educators – providing professional development strengthening PK-12, adult, and teacher educators’ efforts to develop their learners’ digital literacy skills.
4. Drawing on librarians’ leadership, expertise and resources – providing crucial guidance to learners to find, create and use high quality digital content and tools to meet their learning goals.
5. Research-based – drawing on research on best known inclusive practices at every phase of the collective impact process from defining priority concerns to identifying shared metrics to assess progress, selecting promising and proven strategies most likely to improve these metrics if implemented well, to continuously evaluating improvements in targeted metrics.
6. Based on the collective impact process – developing consensus on a common agenda for community change, shared measures for success, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communications, and a backbone organization that reflects and respects the community’s diversity and provides sustained governance for collaborative endeavors.
7. Culturally responsive – engaging local leaders whose diversity reflects fully the community’s linguistic, cultural, socioeconomic, racial and ethnic diversity, so the social impact goals they set are firmly rooted in locally determined needs and assets.
8. Focused on continuous improvement and generating knowledge – contributing new knowledge on investment strategies most likely to yield significant digital equity as well as educational and economic opportunity outcomes.
9. Focused on achieving not only digital equity (improved access to broadband, hardware, tech support, accessible and universally designed learning environments etc.) but also locally determined economic, educational and social impacts – i.e., fostering digital equity not only for its own sake but for its crucial contributions to other, more fundamental locally determined priorities for equity, social justice, and well-being.
10. Fostering gender, racial and ethnic equity — e.g., significantly improved participation by girls, women and persons of color in STEM education and careers.
11. Focused on “deeper learning” – assisting learners of all ages to develop the skills for lifelong learning and living wage career opportunity in the digital age.