The BVSD move to the digital world reflects the way our economy and society operate in general and allows for learning to happen any place and anytime for our students, who have a digital device and an internet connection. When students lack internet access, these learning experiences and opportunities are impacted. My team and I are working to bridge this digital divide to help ensure equitable access for all students.
Although BVSD IT has run internet into one Boulder Housing Partners community as a pilot program, that option is not viable for all of our students. With that in mind, we are starting a new pilot called ConnectME (Connect My Education).
The BVSD Success Effect speaks to the need for partnerships that help us to achieve our educational goals.
Recently, former Centaurus High School graduate and current CU student Balkarn Shahi approached me with an idea to address the learning gap in east county by partnering with city government, charitable organizations, and BVSD to get families connected who otherwise would not be connected. The key is that Balkarn will lead the effort to go door to door, with help from his CU friends to work through the issues with connecting through Comcast's Internet Essentials or Century Link's Internet Basics which are both $9.95 internet options.
Balkarn described his time at CHS where friends, would come to his house to complete homework, check social media and be connected to the world using his available internet connection. He understands the digital divide that exists for our students first hand and is passionate about working to bring access to all students.
My department will be working alongside Balkarn to support his efforts to find the funding to provide access to the Internet for families in need. BVSD IT will not be supplying funds for this portion, rather providing the support to build these relationships with the City of Lafayette, Sister Carmen, and others.
Balkarn has even started a GoFundMe campaign to provide startup funds for this project.
This work would not be able to happen without building the partnerships that the Success Effect highlights. The initial reach of this opportunity is for the Sanchez Elementary community to explore how family access can impact an elementary school and the learning of students and families.
Through this partnership between IT and Sanchez, teachers will receive professional development from BVSD’s Ed Tech team to encourage and support the shift in instruction to a balance of the traditional and digitally enriched classroom. With partnering from the school, the team will also lead learning opportunities for parents to experience and learn about the digital tools, much like what is already occurring within the parent community through the 1:Web pilot.
IT will collaborate with the pilot team to articulate details as well as begin working on the financial partnerships needed to make this happen. We should officially launch the ConnectME Pilot in the 2016-17 school year.
Please chime in with your thoughts below and help me support Balkarn and CU in their efforts to help close the digital divide in BVSD.