Take a look around your learning environment and ask yourselves these questions (answer to the best of your ability):
- Are there students who do do not have access to technology, such as a smartphone, computer, or tablet, outside of school?
- Are there students who may not have internet connection outside of school? Or, if they do, it’s unreliable?
- Are there students who, while they may have access to a device, it isn’t suitable for school work?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you’re faced with the issue of digital equity. Access to technology today is not just about having any device, but also about the type of device and the connectivity of that device. We’re not at the point where devices are like books - even if you don’t have one, you can go somewhere and get one for free from the library. Rather, all devices and Internet services cost money. Many families may need to choose dinner over device. But yet, having the right tools that are easily accessible, is almost an expectation in the age of ubiquitous technology.
Access to the internet and digital devices is no longer a simple yes/no question. Whether families have consistent quality connections and the capabilities to make the most of being connected is becoming just as important. (Digital Equity for Learning)
According to their first-of-its-kind nationally representative survey of 1,191 low- and moderate-income parents with school-aged children (ages 6 to 13), among families who have home Internet access:
- half (52%) say their access is too slow
- one quarter (26%) say too many people share the same computer
- one fifth (20%) say their internet has been cut off in the last year due to lack of payment
Some communities are getting creative in addressing the issue of digital equity:
Dr. Darryl Adams, superintendent of Coachella Valley (CA) Unified School District (CVUSD), brought a team together to wire the district’s 100-strong fleet of school buses with wi-fi routers (and solar panels for recharging), providing students access to the Internet on their often long commutes to and from school, athletic events, and other activities. These same buses are parked overnight at trailer home parks and reservations throughout the district.
In Athens, Alabama where many students come from high poverty homes, the district reached out to businesses, churches, and youth centers, asking proprietors to display “Power Up” stickers, indicating that they welcome students to use their broadband.
Read more examples in the three-part series from Tech & Learning, Digital Equity: A Moral Imperative.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Reply to this post to engage in a discussion.
Return to October Roadmap Mission: Digital Citizenship.
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