Understanding The Digital Divide In Education

In a world where access to technology is a part of daily learning, students who don’t have access to the internet or the devices they need to access online lessons or assignments experience a digital gap dividing them from the equal opportunities afforded their peers. This gap has come to be known as “the digital divide.” Hardware such as mobile devices, televisions,. PCs, laptops, tablets, or access to the internet all either connect your student to the world of learning or separate them from it.

A Problem of Inequality

This is not only a problem about accessing the assignment, but it leads to inequality in being able to use technological equipment and resources as well. During the COVID-19 pandemic, about half of the 1.5 billion students who were supposed to be accessing lessons online at home had no access to remote learning resources. Some had no access to a computer, while others had no access to the internet.

Limited Access to Outside Learning

While this issue partially resolved as soon as students were back in their classrooms, the big problem of lacking access while at home still exists. Think about how much exposure to learning, socializing, and culture students access online today. YouTube boasts 1 billion hours of content that’s watched each day globally, with around 51% of all people visiting YouTube doing so to learn something new. Education doesn’t just come in the traditional form of Teacher + Student = Learning. Today, people learn online every day. If you’re honest, the last time you needed to know something, you probably didn’t step outside and stroll to the library, and you probably didn’t expect your child to do that the last time they needed to perform any sort of academic research or project.

What does this mean for students without internet access or access to online technology? It means that they’re thrown back before the year 2000 when nearly half the U.S. population had access to the internet. That’s over 20 years in the past, and that’s the digital divide.

Marginalized Communities

Although this might still seem like a trivial issue to some people, add to the digital divide the fact that marginalized communities are affected by it disproportionately, and you’re adding to an education and learning gap that already has a devastating impact on communities and our nation as a whole. Not only do these groups have limited access to the internet, but data shows that about 19% of underserved students only have access to a single device in their home. 

What’s Being Done?

There are some things being done to help bridge the gap and help all students succeed. However, some of these work better in certain areas than others. Here’s what some individual communities and states are doing.

  • • Some communities are working to ensure that high-speed broadband is a part of their basic community infrastructure, and they’re working to give access to all community members as a crucial part of their modern lives.
  • • Many school districts are providing their students and parents with take-home technology.
  • • Some areas are providing access to technology through community centers.
  • • The federal E-Rate program has provided cheaper internet and telecommunications access to schools and libraries to make sure community members have online access through these services.
  • • Many school districts are ensuring that technological training is provided to students in school to make sure they bridge the IT knowledge gap.

Different political and community organizations have more drastic ideas about how to ensure all people have access to the internet and adequate technology to access it. However, until solutions are found that reach far and wide across the nation, the digital divide will continue to grow, leaving students further behind as the year 2000 slips further and further into the past.

About Excel High School

Excel High School is an accredited online school that offers many different academic program options for students grade 6 through graduation. We try to bridge the digital divide in education by offering affordable monthly payment plans for all of our programs, providing access to adults and school aged students around the globe. Not only are our programs available to individuals, but we work with colleges and public libraries around the country to help adults earn their high school diplomas. 

Our fully online, self-paced programs fit around your family’s schedule, and our support team is here help you along the way. If you’re not already a student with Excel High School but would like to learn more, feel free to check out our programs on our website. Still got questions? Feel free to reach out to us by text at 952-465-3700 or call us at 800-620-3844. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you have and guide you to the best program for your individual needs.

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