Students pursuing an online Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership learn every day about the many ways that technology is improving classrooms. Technology can offer many benefits, including providing special needs students with unique learning opportunities through assistive technologies. However, as technology becomes more common in classrooms, so is the expectation that students have access to technology and the internet outside of school. This is where the concept of digital equity enters the technology debate.
Students Lacking Technology Are at an Academic Disadvantage
More and more, teachers are assigning homework that relies on high-speed internet access. However, there are many students who do not have the luxury of internet access at home. This means that students without internet access — or who only have digital access by cellular device — are at an academic disadvantage, compared to students who have high-speed internet access at home. Digital equity is an important factor for teachers and schools to consider because students who lack technology resources at home may fall behind in their studies.
Students Without Home-Based Technology Are Further Marginalized
Students who lack appropriate technology resources at home may come from low-income or immigrant families. A lack of home-based technology may create embarrassing situations for these students, further marginalizing them and creating social divisions that lead to other more serious issues, such as depression and bullying.
Closing the Digital Gap Helps All Students Succeed
When each child in a classroom has access to home-based technology, teachers can transition completely to web-based learning methods. However, when some students in a classroom do not have access to the necessary technology outside of school, teachers may be stuck in an awkward middle ground. Though teachers may still be attempting to increase the use of technology during the school day, they will still need to rely on more traditional, non-digital homework methods in order to meet the needs of students who do not have access to technology at home.
When teachers, administrators and policymakers advocate for legislation and district-wide policies that support digital equity, it creates a level playing field so all students can reach their maximum academic potential, and teachers can more fully embrace digital learning methods, which supports success in the entire classroom.
When teachers enroll in programs to earn an online master’s in education, they will learn about the importance of creating policies that provide home-based technology for all students.