Digital equity a growing concern in K-12
- Closing the homework gap, which sees students who lack home access to digital tools or broadband unable to complete homework in an increasingly digital school environment, was a recurring theme at the CoSN annual conference, according to Ed Tech: Focus on K-12.
- CoSN data shows 3% of teachers in high-poverty schools report students lack the tech tools needed to finish homework, compared to 52% of their peers in more affluent schools, while FCC data shows 70% of teachers assign homework requiring internet use — numbers made all the more staggering by Pew data highlighting no home broadband access for five million U.S. families with school-age children.
- One option schools and districts can take advantage of to expand access and ensure digital equity is by engaging in public- and private-sector partnerships.
Digital equity has become a growing concern amid the influx of devices and other technological tools, as well as blended and flipped learning models, into classrooms. While 1:1 device programs help mitigate this to an extent, educators must also take into consideration how many students lack sufficient broadband access at home to complete assignments.
In some districts, this has meant outfitting buses with Wi-Fi hotspots. Others have provided students with mobile hotspots via devices like Kajeet's SmartSpot, allowing them to take internet access home with them alongside their school-issued device. For low-income schools or districts, joining forces with neighboring schools or districts to share costs, or seeking partnerships with public- or private-sector organizations within the community, can be especially helpful in addressing the issue.
As former FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel told us in 2015, "Just try to imagine being a student in one of those households, researching your paper, trying to manage online math programs and communicate with your fellow students and teachers, trying to apply for a scholarship — those things are not going to be easy."
- Ed Tech: Focus on K-12 Districts Explain How to Make Tech Accessible After School
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