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Framing the Issue of the Digital Divide in Education

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Digital Access Shift in Progress

Digital Access Shift in Progress

Access trends can be hard to analyze as technology and tech use constantly evolves.  With that said, it is worth noting the shift from broadband access to mobile only access.   The complete reasons are probably fairly nuanced, but an important reason for the shift is economic.  If people can use their phones for most of their daily needs, then paying several hundreds more a year for a home connection might not make sense.  Here is the latest trend as reported by the Pew Foundation:

Of course, this shift in adoption is not distributed equally throughout the population:

This change has many implications for educations.  Although most teachers will find that a large number of their students have broadband, assigning digital work that requires home broadband will greatly impact those without access.  This doesn't mean that teachers should not be assigning digital work.  When done thoughtfully, digital learning can personalize, differentiate, and challenge students all at the same time.  This means work that is creative, collaborative, and exploratory and not a series of electronic worksheets.

They key, then, is to actually find out about the make-up of students in a school and/or district.  Educators across the United States are working to combat the digital divide, but the first step is to find out what type of connections student have and how the type of connectivity relates to the teaching and assignments.

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