Digital Divide Much More Than About Access

The Atlantic Magazine has an interesting article about inequality in the virtual classroom and that while internet access has become more available to students, courseware is not keeping up to the promise of providing disadvantaged students equal access to challenging and relevant online education. According to the article, “studies have found that online-learning resources had trouble attracting low-income students—or, in the case of school-age children, their parents—and that those who did participate in online classes performed more poorly than their peers.”

Among the impediments for students with limited means to access MOOCs are:

  • less likely to use learning for recreation
  • less likely to know where to find quality courses
  • reduced support network from friends, institutions, family, and co-workers
  • parents education level
  • lack of digital skills

A public library or a public school can provide digital resources, but it’s expertise that’s missing. Perhaps as in the way that lawyers have organized Legal Aid, technologists from ITEEA or ISTE could help develop the network that is so terribly needed to bring those who can’t take full advantage of online courseware.

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