According to the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN), almost 50 percent of students said that they were unable to complete a homework assignment due to lack of access to a computer or the Internet. With 70 percent of teachers saying that they assign homework that requires an Internet connection, this has become a major issue in education, especially with low-income school families, who are four times more likely to lack Internet connection than middle or high-income families.
The divide between students who have access to the Internet outside of school and those who don’t has created the “homework gap”. To give this issue a name, the term “digital equity” has been coined in an effort to raise awareness and offer solutions.
In order for students to reach their potential, they need access to the technology necessary to learn and complete their assignments. Today, earning an education requires high-speed Internet connectivity.
To give school districts a plan on how to tackle this issue for their community, CoSN has released a Digital Equity Action Toolkit with four steps and six approaches for others to use.
Four Steps to Address Digital Equity:
- Conduct a survey to understand the scope of problem
- Engage your community to explore opportunities for student to access the Internet
- Create long-term stability through the community partnerships
- Consider out-of-the-box solutions and be creative in order to problem-solve
Six Approaches to Address Digital Equity:
- Partner with local businesses on Wi‐Fi access for students to use for learning purposes
- Make the most of existing school district assets by installing mobile hotspots in common student areas
- Seek mobile hotspot programs and/or affordable LTE
- Take advantage of special low-cost broadband offerings
- Repurpose educational spectrum to improve broadband capabilities
- Create a mesh network to share best practices amongst communities
Seventy-five percent of school technology leaders admit to having no strategy to address off-campus Internet issues. By utilizing the CoSN digital equity toolkit, school leaders can begin to formulate a plan of action to address this critical issue and help give every student the tools they need to get the education they deserve.