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What is a Digital Dreamer?

tech fair 2023Digital Dreamers make up the 98,957 21st century digital learners in the 139 schools and centers of the DeKalb County School District (DCSD). They thrive within the DCSD virtual ecosystem, which is designed to support our students’ virtual learning environment. This environment includes teaching and learning tools designed to enhance students’ learning experiences by integrating technology in the learning process.

Of primary importance for our Digital Dreamers is how the virtual ecosystem is leveraged to support an empowered learning environment, which, in turn, continues to build on the district’s vision. This vision encompasses increasing students’ digital footprint and preparing students to be globally competitive citizens and inspiring our community of learners to achieve educational excellence.

Over the last 3 years, there have been persistent efforts to bridge the digital equity gap for Digital Dreamers. The learning environment is constantly accessible and supported by innovative technology that encourages all students to be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in our globally connected society. This program has increased the district’s digital footprint to provide continuous access to devices, connectivity, and a virtual learning environment both during and beyond the school day. With the use of the devices and connectivity, students have been able to focus on academic achievement while engaging in practical ways to effectively collaborate, properly troubleshoot and care for devices, and promote digital citizenship. These all involve critical thinking skills that are needed to navigate beyond the traditional classroom environment.

Digital services within the DCSD ecosystem have been aligned to govern Dreamers. Through the power of technology, students have been led to collaborate with community members to expanding learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation in summer virtual academies, youth digital wellness and entrepreneurship programs, as well as receive mentoring through college and career readiness opportunities.

As the program has progressed, students are now expected to independently perform a device wellness check to determine the status of its functionality as well as take ownership of their responsibility as a digital citizen. With digital equity as a major focus, students and teachers continue to be supported through the following essential initiatives.

  • 1:1 Device Rollout | This initially provided for all middle and high school students; however, since the pandemic this has been extended to all students, pre-K-12.

  • Teacher Laptop Refresh | Every teacher of record in the district received a laptop and training to support teaching practices for our Dreamers.

  • Elementary Computer Refresh | 9,700 outdated machines were removed from elementary schools and 25,000 new machines were installed, increasing the digital footprint of our students.

  • Digital Dreamers 1 Million Project | Made possible by the Sprint Foundation, 25,000+ mobile hotspot devices have been distributed to eligible and qualified high school students. These devices will provide each household up to 3GB per month of free internet connectivity, free of charge. The younger siblings of the high school student are encouraged to utilize the device for connectivity.

tech fair 2023A large amount of planning and coordinating went into the implementation of the Digital Dreamer initiative. Internet connectivity is another facet of this innovative program. Approximately 5,000 DCSD students now have access to the internet because of mobile hot spots. Schools identify families in need of support and/or resources as it pertains to internet connectivity. Parents complete a Student Technology Access survey, which provides them with an avenue upon which to request support. For students to receive a mobile hot spot, schools submit an Internet Connectivity Support request form for each family in need as a part of the process.

Moving forward, the Information Technology Division of the DeKalb County School District will continue to enhance facets of the Digital Dreamers Program to incorporate all supports necessary to maximize the achievement of our Digital Dreamers.