With the “digital divide,” the focus was on the students who did not have access to technology or the Internet outside of school. With the “Homework Gap,” our new focus is on the quality of that access to technology and the Internet outside of school.
As shown from the Pew Research Center reports, the “digital divide” is still very much around. However, focusing on improving quality of access is a more appropriate goal in addition to providing the tools students need.
Quality of Access to Technology Outside of School
Expecting students to go to the library or a fast food restaurant is no longer sufficient. Plus it does not provide the quality access that the Speak Up report states as necessary.
And the lack of reliable connectivity doesn’t even begin to address the physical device students use to connect.
According to the CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) 2018-19 Annual Infrastructure Report, “Fewer than 10 percent of districts report that every student has access to non-shared devices at home.” Additionally, a report from ACT discovered 56 percent of students who state having one device at home is referring to a smartphone.
While a smartphone counts as a device and possibly provides Internet connectivity (we haven’t even touched on cellular data plans yet), this does not qualify as the quality access to technology and Internet that Speak Up pointed out.
Cellular data is often a shared family plan, and once that runs out, the student is back to square one, without Internet access.
As schools continue moving toward 1:1 programs and embracing digital technology from online textbooks to Virtual Reality, technology is no longer limited to the classroom for learning. Students require access to the Internet and mobile devices at home now more than ever.
Working Together to Close the Homework Gap
The Homework Gap is still such a pervasive problem that Jessica Rosenworcel, Federal Communications Commissioner, proposed funding to help address this problem.
Rosenworcel’s goal is to expand E-rate, which “subsidizes connectivity for K-12 districts nationwide, including broadband, Wi-Fi and other services that are proving critical to digital-friendly curriculums that are only possible for many schools because of the E-rate discount.”
And while we wait for E-rate, there is something you can do about the Homework Gap – right now.
The Kajeet SmartSpot® provides students equal access to safe, filtered 4G LTE Internet on any of the six major wireless carriers in North America. You can affordably connect your students and level the playing field for learning – even on ever-tightening K-12 budgets.
Beekmantown Central School District in New York wrote about their experience going 1:1 in a recent eSchool News article.
“Our initiative to address digital equity issues began with the rollout of Kajeet SmartSpots for students who needed home Internet access… For that 10 percent who still don’t have Internet, we had an easy-to-use solution. Because robust filtering and reporting features come standard with Kajeet, we’re now able to ensure that students are using Wi-Fi for its intended educational purpose.” Gary Lambert, Director of 21st Century Learning
The homework gap is not gone.
Contact Kajeet today to learn more about how you can make a difference in the lives of your students without Internet connectivity at home.