The global pandemic has revealed that the Digital Divide and Homework Gap may be bigger than anticipated. Last spring, Common Sense Media and Boston Consulting Group reported that 15-16 million students lack sufficient access to the Internet to support remote learning, and 9 million of those students also lack access to a laptop, tablet, or computer. When looking more closely at that data, a majority of those students identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a Person of Color (BIPOC) as well as live in rural and/or underserved communities.
Beyond access, a Digital Use Divide also impacts learners based on socioeconomics. Students from Title I schools have fewer opportunities to use technology in creative, meaningful ways. Instead, available tools are used primarily for drill-and-practice, test-prep, remediation, and content delivery - what Dr. S. Craig Watkins refers to as a “technology rich, curriculum poor environment.” In addition, new advances in artificial intelligence and big data add additional complexity to conversations about Digital Equity. So now what? As educators, what actions might you take? What questions might you ask? How might you help to ensure that ALL of your learners have access to an education that meets ALL of their needs?