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