Technology as equalizer?

Many of us may recall, when we had to look up information, going to a dusty encyclopedia set on a bookshelf at home or at the local library.

Today, kids jump online and can within seconds tap into a world of information far vaster than all the books in that encyclopedia set.

It is important to make sure kids are using reliable sources — but with a little guidance from a teacher, parent, or other caring adult, kids with an internet connection can access high-quality, up-to-date information at little or no cost regardless of where they live.

In this way, technology can be a great equalizer when it comes to education, educators and experts say. Kids living in rural areas can access the same online resources as kids living in the big cities or suburbs.

One very big challenge is how much access kids from low- and moderate-income families have. A new national study found that 94 percent of low- and moderate-income families are connected to the internet, but many rely on mobile-only access with data limits or a home internet access that is too slow. The researchers also found that discounted internet programs are reaching too few of the families who need it.

This can have consequences for students who may not be able to take full advantage of the same online opportunities as their more connected peers.

The researchers shared all their findings as well as policy ideas at www.digitalequityforlearning.org/.

Read more in the December 2016 issue of Partners Post.

 

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