Effort to Increase Digital Literacy as CMS Goes Full Remote Learning

CHARLOTTE, NC –  Thousands of teachers, faculty, and staff within the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system are tasked with remotely educating students within the nation’s 18th largest school district. 

“The resources to ensure that they all have those things are already here in our community,” said Bruce Clark. 

Clark is the executive director of Digital Charlotte. He works to raise awareness and increase digital literacy in the city. He says he is hopeful that remote learning can be done and that students aren’t left behind. 

“Our future depends on it,” said Clark. 

CMS says 70,000 students have devices at home already. And they say every student will have access to a district-provided computer. 

Partnering with CMS Foundation and the 1Million Foundation, the district has delivered 12,000 hot spots to students.. And it plans to have 4,000 more available at the start of the year. 

The district didn’t say whether ALL students would have internet access. 

“We want to make sure that all students are being treated equally,” said Cynthia Johnson. 

She and dozens of other volunteers in West Charlotte are working to help the thousands of homeless students in the district by seeking partnerships with local businesses and restaurants to provide internet access. 

“We need everybody. We need all the community. Charlotte Mecklenburg schools to come out and assist us with this huge endeavor. Because it’s bigger than us,” said Johnson.

Even if the hardware is provided, Clarks says there is a gap when it comes to digital literacy. And that students may not know how to navigate the provided materials. 

“The teachers as well also need and deserve the digital literacy training beyond just the hard skills, but the soft skills to operate in this new paradigm,” said Clark. 

Clark says there is good work being done by many already, but that the effort could be better streamlined. 

“I think we have an opportunity to rally the total of resources together in what I would consider to be a war room type mentality,” said Clark.