Digital Learning Day 2017: The Digital Divide

23rd February 2017 Crista Renouard News No comments

For Digital Learning Day 2017, the Digital Divide comes to the forefront.

Here at Smoothwall, we take web safety seriously. Providing children a safe space to learn on the web is the goal of everything we do. For Digital Learning Day 2017, we want to take a look at why having that web connected space is so important, and what issues are affecting it right now.

DFE-blog-image-600x200-2.jpgWhy is using the web for learning so important?

One way the web facilitates learning is by making it personalized. As an increasingly important part of the curriculum in any school or district, personalized lesson plans can now be tailored from well beyond grade level, down to the individual student. Personalization, however, requires fairly intensive, reliable online resources.

Another way the web facilitates learning is by aiding collaboration, not only among students but also with teachers. Collaboration tools make it possible for teachers to offer feedback while students are working on tasks rather than after the fact, bringing the learning process to life. The same tools make is possible for students to take notes together on a single document, or even to work collaboratively across distances.

But ask any teacher, and you’ll get hundreds of different answers about how the web helps in their classrooms, whether it’s facilitating the grading to tests or providing a foundation for classroom participation.

Why is using the web for learning becoming a problem?

As the web is used increasingly as a collaboration and personalization tool, so the web becomes indispensable for use in the classroom and on homework. Access to technology in schools has become less of a problem, because more schools are connected than ever, thanks in large part to the E-rate modernization orders.

With increasingly digital instructional methods, it becomes a challenge to design a curriculum which takes into account the diversity of student needs. More digitally focused homework requires increasing connectivity for students at home, but there hasn’t been the same push to level the playing field at home.

What does the future hold?

While Lifeline was slated to expand to be the answer to home connectivity problems for those without broadband access, the leadership changes at the FCC signal that those plans for expansion might be at risk.

Some districts have found creative ways to provide neighborhood connectivity through school buses, while others have advocated for students to be able to check out mobile hotspots. In any case, we're committed here at Smoothwall, to keeping students safe online, wherever they can learn.

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Crista Renouard