Going Beyond Pens & Paper – Championing Internet Connectivity for Today’s Learners

AT&T Blog Team
September 28, 2022
Broadband Access and Affordability


Going Beyond Pens & Paper – Championing Internet Connectivity for Today’s Learners

Every year, we send our students back to school with the hopes that come summer, they will have had a rich and vibrant year of learning. Education not only opens the mind, but also opens doors to endless possibilities.

Working together with local governments, school districts, collaborative associations and private companies, like ours, we can go beyond mere pens and paper to help students across the country make the most of their education.

We want to make sure everyone can tap into the opportunity that comes with internet connectivity. Working with the leading education and government associations across the country, it’s clear that public-private partnerships will play a vital role in building a better and more connected future. By making broadband available for underserved communities and connecting students to participate equally in school, we have an extraordinary opportunity to reimagine learning, remove barriers and advance economic & education equity. With that comes a big to-do list – one we know is best achieved together. As communities and school districts work towards addressing the digital divide, we’re working to provide support in several key areas:

Connectivity

Learning doesn’t only happen within the four walls of a classroom; it happens anywhere and everywhere a student’s mind can wander. Equipping students with the connectivity they need to fully engage in their learning – no matter where that takes place – is essential. How do we do that? By reducing the major barriers associated with access, affordability and adoption of high-speed internet.

For many families, the cost of home internet serves isa barrier to connectivity. The federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is helping reduce this barrier by providing qualified families with a $30 benefit for home internet service.

  • Eligible households can apply this benefit to any AT&T Internet plan. When combined with our $30 Access from AT&T plan – providing speeds of up to 100Mbps; home internet is free.1

To unlock the full potential of the ACP and connect more people to the benefits of the internet, we have to work together to spread the word about how families can use the ACP benefit today to get more affordable home internet.

Cities, counties, states and schools across the country are embracing the promise of a return to better, not just normal. That’s why we are also providing affordable options for Education institutions, Libraries and Government entities to connect students, teachers, library patrons and underserved constituents. By delivering comprehensive and agile solutions, we can help bridge communities today to deliver a better tomorrow. Outside of the home and classroom, we have teamed up with community organizations and local non-profits to launch AT&T Connected Learning Centers (CLCs) to provide students and families a dedicated space with free access to high-speed internet, Dell computers and educational resources like The Achievery. Our CLCs also offer learning resources like digital literacy courses and workshops to help students and families participate in digital learning and gain digital literacy skills.

Devices

While Connected Learning Centers provide access to computers in public places, our students also need access to them while at home. We’ve teamed up with organizations across the country to identify students in need of computers, have distributed more than 34,0000 and have hosted distribution events like these:

  • Dallas students received more than 1,000 free laptops through events with the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Compudopt and AT&T volunteers.
  • In West Virginia, we collaborated with the Education Alliance to provide 100 refurbished laptops to underserved students and mentors.
  • The Danville Church & Community Tutorial Program in Virginia received 50 refurbished laptops for local students’ online learning needs.

Read more from Mylayna Albright, AVP Corporate Social Responsibility, about how we’re placing connectivity at the top of this year’s back-to-school list.

Teaching, Learning and Digital Citizenship

It’s also important to cultivate the digital literacy skills needed to use these devices to participate in online learning opportunities. To improve digital skills, students and families can now attend bilingual, in-person workshops in communities across the country.

  • As part of $6 million in contributions, we’re bringing workshops to more than 400 libraries and community centers across the country. The workshops will utilize online digital literacy courses created in collaboration with the Public Library Association (PLA), available through AT&T Screen Ready and PLA Digital Learn. Providing these resources helps the next generation of learner’s transition confidently into our 21st century digital economy with both ease and skill.

Check out AT&T ScreenReady®, where parents can find helpful tools including:

  • Digital safety information to provide users with tips and tools to safely access the internet and keep their families protected.
  • Digital parenting guides that offer expert advice to create an online and entertainment experience that’s right for each family.

Once our students get online, it’s important to empower them to be good digital citizens and teach the responsible use of technology – and we can’t do it alone. We’ve been participating in digital equity committees at ed tech associations – like the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) – to develop digital equity resources for state educational agencies.

We are proud of and encouraged by these collaborative efforts and are looking forward to more, including the Department of Education’s upcoming National Digital Equity Summit today. Up for discussion will be the Department’s “Advancing Digital Equity for All” guidance resource, based on findings from their Digital Equity Education Roundtables (DEER) Initiative. This resource was designed to help leaders develop their broadband deployment plans under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity Act programs.

It’s through collaborations like these that we can build on existing efforts to narrow the digital divide in education and provide equitable solutions for our students this school year and in the future.

1 Access from AT&T plan available in the 21 states where AT&T offers wireline home internet services. Speeds depending on availability at the customer’s address.