Ed Tech Trends
Philly Program Targets 35,000 Students for Digital Connectivity
- By Dian Schaffhauser
public-private partnership in Philadelphia will help up to 35,000
students in low-income households acquire computing devices and
internet access. "PHLConnectED,"as
the program is called, will also provide digital skills training and
tech support for families, in time for the start of school.
district decided to begin all students online through Nov. 17. Then,
as a reopening
it will "transition to a mix of in-person and digital learning
as long as guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health
and other indicators support that it is safe to do so."
wired, high-speed internet to the home from Comcast's Internet
Essentials program, or a high-speed mobile hotspot for families who
are housing-insecure or need a portable option;
such as Chromebooks, tablets or computers, which have been acquired
by the school district, charter school or private funds; and
skills training and tech support for household members, to help them
understand how to take advantage of the internet.
project sponsors include:
digital divide is an inequity that presents a significant barrier to
our goal of helping all students in every neighborhood reach their
full academic potential," said William R. Hite, Jr.,
superintendent of the school district, in a statement. "So,
we...are pleased to see the city, legislators and business leaders
come together to launch PHLConnectED, a program we believe can close
the divide and allow for all students to have the access they need,
especially now as we prepare for 100 percent digital learning to
start the 2020-2021 school year next month."
households will be contacted by their schools directly via mail,
email, calls and texts. This phase of the project will cost $17.1
million over two years. Philanthropic partners have donated $11
million; the city is contributing $2 million from CARES Act funding;
and the remaining costs will be shared among the district and
Jim Kenney added that PHLConnectED is a launchpad effort that serves
as stage one of the city's larger ambition. "Our goal is to
identify and implement affordable, simple and reliable digital access
solutions for all our residents," he said. "By focusing on
K-12 student households now, we can have an immediate impact in
bridging the digital divide, especially to support distance learning
for the upcoming school year."
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.