Technological advancements aren’t equally available to all students. Education today is subject to a digital divide that makes equal access to the internet impossible. Students without internet access miss out on a huge educational opportunity, which in turn impacts the future of the country. Smarter citizens will create better solutions and increase the quality of life for everyone involved.
Innovative schools are leading the way when it comes to providing internet access to vulnerable students. This example can help schools in underprivileged environments provide a way for their students to succeed in the 21st century.
The Digital Divide in America’s Schools
70% of schools nationwide don’t have a high-speed internet connection. High-speed internet allows users to keep up with growing website demands and access information in a timely manner. Not having this valuable asset makes it difficult for students to access educational videos on YouTube, articles addressing current events which impact their lives, and online tests or quizzes required in their coursework.
Why Internet Access is Critical to Modern Education
90% of the information on the internet has been created in the past year. Having access to the internet allows students to keep up with information that might not make it into textbooks, or that might become outdated by the time it is published in a traditional format.
Having access to this information empowers students to take charge of their education, and the research backs that up. Test scores from low-income students increased by 30% after they were given access to Internet-capable devices. Other studies showed that discipline issues decreased when students were able to use technology to help with their studies.
How Students Without Internet or Computers at Home Fall Behind
Low-income students often don’t have access to devices at home. With the wealth of information and educational resources available on the internet, students that come from working-class families can improve their social standing and can even help their families get out of poverty. But without internet access, they’re prevented from any opportunities which could greatly improve their quality of life.
Laptop and Tablet Lending Programs
Schools that want to institute a laptop and tablet lending program face issues in doing so. Without a way to track these educational assets, they could easily follow after hundreds of businesses who have lost 86,000 laptops in one year. The majority of schools across the nation have limited funding across the board, let alone have enough set aside to replace missing technology. However, not providing students with access to the internet prevents them from obtaining the skills they need to perform well in today’s job market.
How Public-Private Partnerships Provide Schools with Internet and Devices
Organizations like Close the Gap and the FCC are working to provide Internet access to students nationwide. Increased public funding for technology makes it possible for schools to provide internet capable devices to their students.
There are also a number of state and non-profit organizations dedicated to helping bridge the digital divide. These organizations have helped school districts develop a comprehensive vision for technology implementation that benefits students from all income levels.
The Importance of Asset Tracking to Control Costs and Preserve Access
Teaching takes a lot of time, so it can seem overwhelming to implement an asset tracking solution. However, an asset tracking software can save a lot of time AND money for educational environments. Asset tracking systems make it more difficult for technology to disappear, ensuring students will continue to retain access to the technology necessary to succeed. This will enable your school to make the most out of your tech budget, and continue providing internet to less privileged students.
Future Solutions: Closing the Digital Divide
Educational staff and other tech-focused companies agree that lower-income families need internet access. Providing accessible technology helps students enter the job market prepared, instead of entering with a handicap compared to those with easy internet access. Laptop lending programs are a great way to give lower-income students a way to access the internet.
Promising Ideas to Create Universal Internet Access
Some commercial ISPs and other organizations are working to provide schools with industry standard internet speeds. In one instance, Google Fiber provided 60 low-income families with gigabit internet connection to help students take advantage of home internet access to improve their studies.
Inventory tracking solutions can also be customized to help schools make the most of the technology they’re able to obtain. This ensures that all of their tech budgets are used to help students access the internet and improve their studies with online resources.