Complete Chromebook Management

Digital Equity: How to Turn Limited Access into Unlimited Opportunities

Elena Ontiveros Elena Ontiveros July 19, 2016


As an educator, you know that learning doesn’t just take place while school’s in session; your classroom extends to the living room when students go home for the day. But when families can’t meet the digital demands of today’s education due to a lack of digital access, it can be hard for students to reach their full potential.

You already understand how challenges outside the classroom can impact a student’s work inside of it, especially when it comes to students from low-income families. Following are some key statistics from Opportunity for All? Technology and Learning in Lower-Income Families, a report by Victoria Rideout and Vikki S. Katz for The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, that highlight low-income connectedness (or lack thereof) and ideas on how you can address each situation in your assignments.

23% only have internet access through a mobile device.
  • Keep homework instructions short. Complicated tasks can be difficult to complete on a mobile device and screen sizes vary. The more you simplify and lessen the need for scrolling, the easier it will be for students to complete an assignment.
26% share a single computer with multiple family members.
  • Assign multiple due dates. Students may have limited time to do homework if they have to share a computer. If your project has several parts, have students turn in one section per day to help increase their access time and quality of work.
52% have service that is either too slow or intermittent.
  • Minimize your use of media. Images and videos take up data and can take time to load for those without high-speed access. Review and discuss key media resources in class so students have the context to complete an assignment at home.
20% get service cut off due to missed payments.
  • Be flexible on formatting. Google Docs are convenient, but may not always be available. Offer students alternative ways to turn in homework or create a “digital rewind” assignment, where they have to complete an entire project offline.

Education-related technology and the cost of that technology is more than some communities can afford. Even if students and their families aren't digitally connected, you can invent ways for them to feel connected and give them educational access where they may not otherwise have it.

How do you ensure students from low-income families don’t miss out on learning opportunities? Share in the comments below!

Topics: Learning

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