The shift to online schooling during the pandemic highlighted inequity among students, some of whom lacked financial resources to secure a stable, high-speed, encrypted and protected internet connection. Additionally, a significant number of students also had challenges with online schooling due simply to not having tech devices to access curriculum content that they were assigned to work on by their teachers.
These inequities underscore the concept of digital equity, which could be achieved if all stakeholders across the spectrum (from micro to macro level) can work together to ensure all students (especially those coming from lower-income households) have the right to access what they need to succeed academically. This includes having an internet connection outside of school, an internet speed that is fast enough to support video conference calls to connect with family or other schoolmates, and breaking down silos in the work environment that further inhibit collaboration (which is very much needed during times of stress and anxiety).
The article discusses a survey that the Consortium for School Networking conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, some districts offered campus broadband services which allowed students to connect to their internet from their homes. The survey showed that during the pandemic the number of districts offering this feature soared to 95 percent.
The survey also revealed that 97% of students at around 400 schools were worried about not having access to devices as well as fast internet connections during online schooling. During the pandemic, students were only able to attend their classes if they had a valid device and good internet connection – which, as the survey shows, was not the case for every student. In addition, there were problems with video conferencing, including security and privacy issues, lack of familiarity with applications, and bandwidth issues. Ultimately, collaboration is the key to success in online learning: schools must work together to create fixes for various issues, and a silo mentality must be avoided at all costs.Tags: covid-19, digital equity, distance learning, learning, online learning, pandemic, post-secondary, school, tablets, university, videoconferencing
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This post was written by Bhavya Lamba