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Blog #4: The Digital Divide

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

In this technology-driven society that we live in, lack of access experienced by some communities in this country further compounds the effects of socioeconomic disparities. This disparity, known as the "digital divide" separates people with access to technology and internet connectivity from people who lack such access. That said, people who are inherently inhibited from accessing digital resources and the internet are increasingly disadvantaged and increasingly suffer adverse disparities that have wide-ranging adverse impacts in many areas of their lives.

In the realm of education, the digital divide creates homework/resource gaps for many underserved, disadvantaged, and minority students. And it isn’t just about homework loss; it puts these students at risk of significant learning loss. All the pandemic did is shine more light on this inequality because it has been present for years. Before the pandemic, about 15-16 million K-12 public school students lived in households without an internet connection or device adequate for distance learning at home. Indeed, students aren’t the only ones lacking adequate internet connectivity. A report by Common Sense Media and Boston Consulting Group found that 300,000 to 400,00 public school teachers live in households experiencing inequitable access to internet, and another 100,00 lacking adequate home computing devices. K–12 Student Digital Divide Much Larger Than Previously Estimated and Affects Teachers, Too, New Analysis Shows | Common Sense Media.

How will we address these learning disruptions? The study completed by Common Sense Media and Boston Consulting Group states that closing the student digital divide will require action from Congress to invest $6-$11 billion in the first year and an additional $1 billion to close the gap in teacher access. It was disappointing, but not surprising, that the digital divide created severe inequitable disruptions to learning before the pandemic. In 2005, Christine Y. Mason and Richard Dodd's wrote an article entitled "Bridge the Digital Divide for Educational Equity" where they discussed that not all students have the same access to technology, particularly black and Hispanic youth. That gap in access is not much different now, 15 years later.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver $65 billion to help ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet through an historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment. This is great news, but we are likely to need even more to close the digital divide and thus close the resulting academic gaps experienced by the children of this nation. #Thebipartisaninfrastucturedeal, #digitaldivide, #education

Digital inclusion is only part of the solution. Educational technology is crucial in strengthening communities, educational opportunities and the workforce, and help us learn new skills to succeed in the digital world. These efforts will take the continuing commitment of many stakeholders. Verizon, for instance, is one company getting on board to making a difference in closing the digital divide with a goal to provide digital skills training to 10 million youth by 2030. Digital Inclusion and Tech Inclusion | About Verizon #verizoninnovativelearning

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