When it comes to education, a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t provide our students with the best possible education. Some students grasp new concepts right away, while others may need a little more guidance. That’s why dedicated educators are always searching for new tools and resources to strengthen the learning experience and help all students achieve more. And today, teachers and schools across the country are using the Internet and other advanced communications technologies as those tools – to enhance the learning experience and teach the digital literacy skills our students need to succeed.
This month marks the third annual Digital Learning Day, a celebration of innovative teaching and technology-assisted methods that can unlock the potential in any student. Digital Learning Day is also an opportunity to learn how robust digital learning environments can help students learn and give them essential tools for success.
Here at LNESC, we’re always searching for new resources and methods we can use to help Latino students, and to that end, we’ve embraced digital learning as an essential component to 21st century education. We offer innovative programs that emphasize literacy and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), as well as academic counseling and workshops on college access. So far, LNESC has served over 500,000 students, sent 150,000 students to college, and awarded almost $20 million in scholarships. Working with our network of 14 education and technology centers across the country and with over 90 partner schools, our programs are designed to help bridge the gap between Latino students and the opportunities they deserve.
We utilize our essential network to reach high-need Latino students and to help them take their places as our future leaders. But we also acknowledge the importance of access to a different key network: high-speed broadband. Expanded access to fast, reliable broadband networks in our nation’s schools and libraries can help us reach more students, of course. It can also help students find opportunities and access resources of which they might not otherwise know. Without broadband access, teachers cannot enrich traditional classroom instruction with the digital learning features designed to prepare our students for future challenges.
But right now, the quality of Internet in too many of our schools and libraries does not offer the capacity or speeds needed for today’s innovative learning tools. That’s why The White House announced “ConnectED” initiative. This program calls for expanded access to modern broadband connectivity—which supports the speeds and bandwidth that our students need—to 99 percent of K–12 students within five years. Additionally, various private companies have stepped up, offering resources to help achieve the goals of this initiative.
This is just one instance of how the private sector and government must work together to move us forward and reach the goal of universal broadband connectivity. These broadband networks deliver opportunities and new possibilities to our schools and all kinds of people. This connectivity can help ensure that everyone has a chance to achieve potential and to benefit from lifelong learning. Our country’s networks must also be upgraded and enhanced to keep pace with innovation, and the shift to next-generation nationwide broadband networks will require modern rules that encourage investment and creative solutions. Along the way, ensuring equality of opportunity—for our Latino students and for all students of all ages—must remain a key objective.
Perhaps the biggest consistent challenge in educating students is that we can’t prepare them for what’s expected—we must instead prepare them for a future that we cannot foresee. Embracing today’s digital learning initiatives will help students develop the tools they need to succeed, and paving the way for tomorrow’s networks and innovations will lead us to a future of limitless possibilities and potential for every student.