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New DOE Report Pushes Vision of Digital Equity for All

The federal Office of Educational Technology during today's National Digital Equity Summit launched its Advancing Digital Equity for All resource, which provides a platform for recommendations to establish equity plans.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (OET) today at the National Digital Equity Summit announced a resource which promises to tackle digital inequities for all students.

During the summit — which brought a couple hundred organizations, education systems leaders, federal entities and ed-tech specialists together — the OET launched its resource, Advancing Digital Equity for All, which brings together plans and recommendations from education stakeholders on how to push the envelope in creating digital equity across the board, according to a news release.

The recent infrastructure bill that included the $2.75 billion Digital Equity Act paved the way for this resource, which the OET boasts will lead to the creation of digital equity plans, a need that has been exacerbated throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said that the pandemic led to equitable technology access becoming a code-red situation.

“Students without broadband access or only a cellphone have lower rates of homework completion, lower grade point averages … even lower college completion rates,” Cardona said in the statement. “There can be no equity without digital equity.”

The new publication, mostly derived from the OET’s Digital Equity Education Roundtables (DEER) initiative, touches on hurtles regarding the access, cost and implementation of plans, as well as potential paths to avoid pitfalls. DEER events provided a platform for local organizations, families and students less likely to have digital access to learn about potential solutions. The DEER events’ top talking points became part of the resource content.

In addition to DEER, the summit and the Digital Equity for All report, OET over a 12-month span plans to build a sense of urgency leading to digital solutions for those negatively impacted by the digital divide.