February 25, 2016 by Donelle
If you’ve been anywhere near an ed tech conference or publication recently, you’ve been exposed to the phrase “digital equity.” CoSN just released a Digital Equity Action Toolkit. The toolkit describes the homework gap that is a consequence of the lack of high speed internet connections in high poverty areas. Digital equity is one of the Alliance for Excellent Education’s primary issues. The Alliance’s Caroline Waldman blogged a thoughtful response to the February 22 New York Times article on the FCC’s recommendation to address the homework gap by updating Lifeline, a program that provides a discount on monthly phone service to eligible households, to include broadband access.
SIIA’s Vision K-20 project calls for robust technologies that “provide all members of the education community with anytime/anywhere educational access.” Benchmarking data from our annual Vision K-20 survey shows steady incremental growth toward this goal, yet the gap between current and ideal levels of implementation is about 60%.
While policy makers and school districts are working on the issue, I hope they give thought to where the best-connected among us are on the digital access spectrum. Would I give up the lightning-fast speed I have at home and at work? Could I do high-quality work if I didn’t have access to vast amounts of digital content? Would I be happy if I couldn’t personalize the way I use and respond to that content? No, no and no. Students and educators answer the same way.
The answer to how much access is enough is the same answer a five-year-old might give if asked how much ice cream she wants: LOTS! And giving into the charming logic of that, I’d give it to her.
Donelle Blubaugh is the Education Programs Manager at the Education Technology Industry Network (ETIN) of SIIA. Contact Donelle for information about ETIN’s Vision K-20 survey, U.S. K-12 Market survey, Innovation Showcase program or Diversity Initiative.