As a former middle school teacher who taught in a lower-income, majority-minority school equipped with lots of “high tech” tools, I often wondered about digital equity. For me, students’ access to tech at school wasn’t the issue. However, I knew that things were a lot different once students left my classroom. Because the majority of my students lacked internet access at home, I never assigned homework that required technology.
But that was over 10 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Today, using tech for teaching and learning–both in class and for homework–is a lot more common than it was. Nevertheless, many teachers and students are struggling to adapt to a world where it seems like everyone is connected, yet not everyone has the same access.
A number of key findings in Common Sense’s recently released research report, The Common Sense Census: Inside the 21st-Century Classroom, speak to this disconnect. According to the report, nearly a third of teachers said it would limit their students’ learning “a great deal” or “quite a bit” if their students didn’t have access to a computer or the internet. Yet, nearly a third of teachers also shared that they assigned homework online at least once a week–although those teachers who said they did assign digital homework were more likely to teach in affluent, non-Title I schools. Together these findings highlight the importance of understanding that, while access to technology may be nearly universal today, using those same technologies for learning isn’t always equitable.…Read More