4 Ways That Digital Equity Can Level the Learning Field
Do you believe that every student has the right to a good education?
Most of us would answer with a resounding, “Yes!”
But the reality is that some groups of students (such as low-income or minority groups) seem chronically deprived of the same quality educational opportunities as their wealthy or white peers.
Technology offers the potential to either close or widen this gap. Students who can access the dizzying array of learning opportunities available online have a distinct advantage over those who can’t. Legislation such as the Digital Equity Act of 2015 aims to close this discrepancy.
Here are the real benefits to digital equity in education.
- It makes it easier for students to complete homework assignments. Gone are the days of taking the textbook home to answer questions with a pencil and paper. Teachers are channeling the power of digital media to assign homework that is highly personalized and relevant. The problem is that not every student can complete these non-traditional assignments if they don’t have Internet access at home. True digital equity will result in meaningful homework tasks for every student.
- It provides low-income students with access to technology outside of school hours. One of the biggest gaps among student groups is their access to technology when school is closed, especially in the early years. Students that grow up with technology in their homes have a definite advantage, as they are much more comfortable in the digital landscape than students that have not encountered it. Student outcomes can improve when every student has the opportunity to use technology outside the school walls.
- It improves communication between parents and teachers. Email, text messaging and class websites provide a powerful channel for connections between home and school. For students whose families can access such tools, learning will become more relevant as teachers can get to know them better. Parents can be easily updated on student progress and specific ways to support their children’s learning.
- It provides students with much-needed guidance around digital etiquette and citizenship. The Internet is a whole new world in which a new set of rules about behavior (and misbehavior) comes into play. Students from wealthy families come to school already knowing the proper way to conduct themselves online. They also have some idea of how to evaluate the deluge of information available to them. Digital equity gives low-income and minority students the opportunity to learn such basic rules of etiquette and appropriate behavior.
As with any social problem, technology has the power to either solve or dramatically worsen it. Technology can erect one more barrier to disadvantaged students. Or it can become the best thing that ever happened to them.