The Power of Partnership: Bringing Equity to EdTech

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For educators who care deeply about equity, the prospect of increased technology in classrooms affords much potential. With more EdTech, teachers can differentiate their practice to best fit the varied learning styles and instructional needs of their students. Students can push their own learning forward by listening to lectures online, watching educational videos, or merely scouring the web. Consider the story of Battushig Myanganbayar, a boy from Mongolia who aced MIT’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on ‘Circuits and Electronics’ at the ripe age of 15.

While these stories encourage and inspire us (rightfully so!), they may also mask the flip side of the coin: the fact that education technology can greatly exacerbate preexisting issues of equity. While the internet has made it possible for students to research concepts to no end, many rigorous practice opportunities still require a fee. This trend exists with teachers as well, who are often asked to pay for lesson plans and other curricular resources, like good reading material or practice worksheets for students. All too often can one see divides like these form along racial and/or socioeconomic lines, for both students and teachers alike.

Two years ago, I joined a team of people who seek to take advantage of the current EdTech trends to even the playing field for teachers and students alike. Together, we began building a website called Edcite, which equips teachers with high-quality digital assignments, regardless of their tech access (the site works on all devices), their school budgets, or even their country of origin.

But our firm, unwavering commitment to equity in education technology can’t start and stop with us. In that vein, we chose to magnify opportunities for the students we serve by partnering with organizations and individuals who are equally dedicated to addressing inequity. So we were really excited when, through the powerful professional learning network (PLN) of #edtechbridge, we met another organization that shares our vision for equity: Story Shares.

Story Shares is an incredible non-profit aimed at closing the literacy gaps among students beyond elementary school. Typically, students that read below grade level often have to read texts that aren’t age-appropriate. Story Shares solves this problem by providing interesting, engaging, and age-level appropriate reading content for struggling readers. It’s all digital, and it’s all free!

We knew that our combined interests and vision for education necessitated a partnership of some sort. And so we thought: what if we could equip teachers with passages from the Story Shares books to accommodate struggling readers? What if we could build an even larger passage library so students can get free, rigorous reading practice?

A few months later, we did just that. By soliciting the feedback of Story Shares and many of our ELA teachers, we built a passage library with dozens of passages for different subjects: English, History, Science, Politics + Civics etc. And this number will continue to grow each week!

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We’re thrilled about this passage library and our continuing partnership with Story Shares, for we know that, together, we can get valuable reading material into the hands of the teachers and students that need it the most. And, beyond this initial project, we’re excited to have met yet another partner in this shared mission to spread the benefits of high-quality education to everyone, everywhere.

*Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post and videos on how to use the passage library!

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