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Providing Multilingual Digital Literacy Support for Learners, Families, and Caregivers

Located just outside of Portland, OR, the Beaverton School District serves over 40,000 students, approximately 24 percent of whom identify as Latino. When the schools first launched their 1-to-1 program in 2014, they discovered not all students had equitable access to reliable, high-speed internet at home. They then implemented several strategies to help bridge the gap. As they began the work, they soon discovered many of their Spanish-speaking parents and guardians could not be contacted via email, creating barriers to home-school communications. Some parents had never created an email address, while others had one but rarely used it and didn’t provide it to the school. Realizing they needed to engage their Spanish-speaking parent community with digital literacy and citizenship education, the district began hosting monthly Latino parent technology nights in Spanish in collaboration with their community liaison. 

To publicize the event without relying on email or other digital communication tools, district personnel recorded a message about the event in Spanish that was sent to parents by the school autodialer. They also recruited student volunteers from their Latinos Unidos club to spread the word about the parent night to the broader community. The district helped remove attendance barriers by providing on-site daycare, refreshments, and multiple translators. The goals of the events were to help parents stay abreast of district activities, improve communication with their child’s teachers, and help parents support their children with digital citizenship information. The district also provided hands-on computer training at every meeting, teaching such tasks as: 

  • Establishing email accounts 
  • Accessing student attendance and academic records 
  • Navigating the school district web page and accessing it in Spanish 
  • Practicing locating essential information 
  • Communicating follow-up parent and caregiver support 

By cultivating the digital skills of their Spanish-speaking families over several years, Beaverton has been able to improve communications and create a more participatory and inclusive school culture.