AFCEA International Chapter News
MONTGOMERY CHAPTER CHAPTER - Jul 16, 2020

Experts Discuss the Digital Divide

In July, the chapter hosted its third virtual luncheon featuring a panel of industry and government experts who discussed the digital divide. The panelists included Dawn Morrison, Alabama Department of Education; Eujon Anderson, Google innovator and Google certified trainer; Tim Lewis, the AUM College of Education; and Justin Hampton, Montgomery Education Foundation. The panel was moderated by Chapter Education Foundation Director Eric Sloan. The panel opened by discussing what the digital divide means for students and families during this global pandemic. Many people take for granted access to broadband Internet and having a device in their home that is capable of connecting, but for many families this isn't a reality. A lack of technology makes keeping up academically more challenging and forces family to increase their exposure risks by having to use devices in places such as libraries or at a friend's house. This isn't only a problem faced by school-aged children, but it also impacts college students and community members who can't take advantage of professional development opportunities. All of this sounds depressing, but efforts to reduce the digital divide are going forth. The panel suggested some ways that Alabama and the river region are working to improve connectivity, including $40 million in grants that schools can apply for, and equipping buses with Wi-Fi. They also suggested that as a community, organizations could work to fund broader coverage for underserved areas. The bottom line is that schools need significantly more funding to help close the gap. These gaps have always existed, but the pandemic has highlighted how insufficient are many of the current plans and how important closing the digital divide is to the success of not just our children but our communities at large.

Kyna McCall-Pastor, chapter president, also discussed the Chapter Education Foundation and some of the initiatives that they have accomplished throughout the year, including eSports tournaments, CampIT, Girls Scout Cyber Badge workshop, scholarships and education grants. All of these activities are made possible by our corporate sponsors. MITS, one of the biggest fundraisers for the Chapter Education Foundation was postponed this year, but several companies donated all or part of their original contributions to support the education foundation anyway. The chapter would like to thank ARRAY, JYG Innovations, ITG, Inserso, JJR Solutions, Oasis Systems, ID Technologies, Ignite and Fearless Technologies for their generosity. The chapter would also like to thank the panelists for sharing their time and expertise to help us all understand the digital divide facing many of our communities.

Event Photographs:

In July, the virtual luncheon panelists discuss
In July, the virtual luncheon panelists discuss "The Digital Divide." Pictured are Dawn Morrison, Alabama Department of Education (l); Eujon Anderson, Google innovator and Google certified trainer (top r); Tim Lewis, the AUM College of Education (bottom r); and Justin Hampton, Montgomery Education Foundation (middle r).
The chapter board and panelists join chapter members remotely to discuss the Digital Divide at a July virtual event.
The chapter board and panelists join chapter members remotely to discuss the Digital Divide at a July virtual event.

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