When discussing Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), the issue of equity is always a concern; however, schools have many issues with equity regarding learning opportunities. Teachers within a school may utilize different teaching methods and strategies, so students may utilize different resources for different purposes. Some teachers choose to use project-based learning to engage students with content at school. Other teachers work especially hard to create and nurture a caring learning community, and they understand what motivates and inspires their students to learn regardless of the obstacles in their lives. Schools often have varying availability and access to digital tools and resources. This access might be due to the resources students already have in their lives and that they bring from home, but sometimes it’s due to the ingenuity and vision of the school leadership to pursue every available avenue to ensure student success.
A Shift in Thinking – Sharing Ownership of the Learning
When schools encourage students to bring their own technology tools and devices, they have new ways for connecting with each other, their teachers, and content. Some schools provide students with technology resources within their classroom for collaboration or provide devices with a one-to-one implementation. Regardless of the methods used to ensure students have technology tools, digital resources, and access, students need to share in the ownership of their learning experience within their learning community. This shift often requires that teachers empower students in the learning process. Teachers have to be willing to try new things with technology tools and understand that students may be the best “just in time” experts to explain about a new concept, solve a technical issue, or ask engaging questions. Teachers don’t have to specify how a project should be undertaken and completed. Instead teachers can offer choices and provide guidance for each student to find ways to share his or her own unique voice in order to show what they know.
A Scenario of Inequity
One of the most inequitable learning scenarios occurs when students go to school and discover that they have the teacher that doesn’t choose to use technology; or doesn’t choose to engage in project-based learning; or doesn’t choose to ask engaging questions. Meanwhile, their peers may end up in classrooms with teachers that employ digital learning and personalize the learning process. All students need to develop digital age skills to be successful in an ever-increasing digital world.
Ensuring Equity in Schools
One way of ensuring equity at schools is by guaranteeing that each teacher has access to a sustainable equitable digital curriculum as a foundation for personalized learning. Some teachers will be late adopters of technology, but if they have access to a repository of resources populated with lesson plans and learning activities designed by more capable trailblazers they may be more willing to try new strategies. Consistent modeling, support from school leaders, coaching, and quality professional learning can be the tools that these teachers need for success. By providing teachers with access to sustainable digital resources, in addition to helping them develop personal goals and achievable expectations, schools can become closer to providing an equitable learning experience for students.