As part of ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide in Canyons School District, every student next year will be assigned a computing device to augment and support learning. Elementary students will receive a device for safe-keeping at school. Middle school and high school students will be provided devices to keep and carry home at night and on weekends.
“This will be their personal computing device to use throughout their K12 educational careers,” said Canyons Information Technology Director Scot McCombs. “Technology is ubiquitous. It’s how we access knowledge, connect with one another, and make daily decisions. I take for granted that I can access the Library of Congress on my phone and laptop, but some of our students don’t have these tools. Without meeting this basic need, how can we begin to address other inequities?”
The District is exploring options for funding this equipment as part of ongoing budget expenditures. In addition, CSD’s non-profit arm, the Canyons Education Foundation, is securing grants and private donations.
“We know from surveys that up to 5,100 of Canyons’ 34,000 students have no access to a computing device or reliable Internet service at home,” said Foundation Officer Denise Haycock. “During the pandemic, our schools worked hard to get devices into the hands of all students who needed them. But going forward we needed a more sustainable solution to supporting students in acquiring the digital literacy they need to thrive in today’s computerized world.”
The Foundation is working with business partners to “adopt,” or purchase devices, for schools and classrooms. Individual families and CSD employees can also participate by adopting a student or contributing to a technology fund. Donors will receive a window cling to display at their place of work or on their vehicle. Information about contributing to the Foundation’s Connect Canyons campaign can be found on the Foundation’s website.
Computers have been used in Canyons classrooms for years, but a one-device-per-student ratio will allow students to take more ownership of their devices. Secondary students can personalize them and use them in and out of school.
“Technology is already such a big part of students’ lives, and it makes sense to use their interest in technology to keep them invested in learning. To be college-ready today is to be technology-ready,” McCombs said.
New technologies also mean new learning experiences and opportunities. “It can be really freeing for a student to be able to do their school work at home or while away from the classroom,” McCombs said. “The reality is learning is no longer confined to the four walls of a classroom. Today’s students are more empowered than ever to choose the pace, place and path of their education, provided they have the right tools.”
Editors’ Note: This story was updated on March 8 to reflect a change in how the initiative will be funded.
Connect with Us • Free WiFi
In addition to making computing devices available, schools are finding creative ways to ensure students have access to reliable WiFi at home. Through a partnership with Comcast, qualifying Canyons District families can have high-speed Internet installed in their home. To find out if your family qualifies, contact your child’s school.