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Digital Equity Education Roundtables (DEER)

Closing the digital divide can enable all learners to fully participate in the digital economy of today and tomorrow. Therefore, investing in strategies to support the adoption of broadband and connected devices is critical for enabling anywhere, anytime learning.

Expanding Broadband Access and Technology-Enabled Learning for All Students

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) addresses digital equity through a historic $65 billion investment, which could provide learners and their families and caregivers with the connectivity they need to engage in technology-enabled learning opportunities.

Three Components of Digital Equity

  • Availability: Do learners and their families and caregivers live in areas where there is sufficient coverage to deliver high-speed, reliable wired or wireless services?
  • Affordability: Can learners and their families and caregivers pay for the total cost of maintaining a high-speed, reliable connectivity?
  • Adoption: Can learners and their families and caregivers obtain regular access to the internet and tools to facilitate technology-enabled learning opportunities?

The Context

6M

Students face adoption barriers outside of availability and affordability[1]

9M

Of the 37M households who were eligible for EBB, only 9M households applied[2]

25%

Only a quarter of low-
and middle-income families are aware of
free or discount internet programs[3]

State Digital Equity Plans

To access BIL Digital Equity Act capacity building funds, states are required to identify barriers to digital inclusion and set measurable objectives to address them.

Working together with members of the education community, state leaders must address how they will navigate the issue of broadband adoption in their state digital equity plans (as well as future iterations of these plans) to maximize the impact of their investments into broadband availability and affordability solutions.

Some foundational questions to consider:

  • How will states partner with communities to co-create effective digital inclusion programs and resources and generate buy-in from the public?
  • How will states strategically increase public awareness and understanding of new and existing digital inclusion programs and resources?
  • How will states help learners, families, and caregivers navigate complexities in accessing digital inclusion programs and resources?
  • How will states build necessary capacities, such as digital literacy, to directly empower stakeholders in fully taking advantage of the connectivity?
Blue image featuring animated silhouettes of seven people who are connected through a network of colorful lines. Text in the bottom left-hand corner reads, "DEER Initiative" followed by a logo that represents the "Digital Promise" organization.

What will OET Achieve through the DEER Initiative?

OET will:

  • Host a series of national convenings to identify (1) adoption barriers faced by learner communities that are the furthest from digital opportunities and (2) promising and impactful solutions.
  • Publish a resource on equitable broadband adoption strategies to inform states’ digital equity plans.
  • Spur community action and commitment aligned to the recommendations made with the guidance resources.

More Information on Broadband Investment Programs

Path to Digital Equity: Why we need to address the digital divide with…

Imagine creating conditions where every learner and community can fully access and leverage the technology needed for full participation in learning, the economy, and society…

OfficeofEdTech @OfficeofEdTech

Need More Info?

  • Contact ed.tech@ed.gov with questions.
  • Please Include “OET DEER” in the Subject Line

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