While the world gets more connected with advancing technologies, the digital divide remains a global concern in most parts of the world. According to an estimate by the United Nations and the World Economic Forum,¹ almost half of the world’s population remains offline. It’s not just people in developing countries who are offline, even in the United States only 73 percent of households use the internet. According to one recently published article in Thoughtco,² which quoted a data piece from 2015, of the 73 percent of households with the internet, 77 percent had high-speed broadband internet. The article addresses the age gap, the urban/rural gap, as well as the income gap to show the digital divide in the United States. About 14 percent of school children,³ estimated at around 9 million, don’t have access to computers or the internet, according to the U.S. News and World Report portal.
That’s led to a “digital divide,” and in today’s world, when technology is all-pervasive, that’s not a good sign. Bridging this digital divide, however, can allow students to succeed in their learning pathways.
But the good news is that eLearning can address the issue by reducing the digital divide, improving the participation of students, and lowering the barriers of time and place by enabling students to access education resources seamlessly.
According to ACT Center for Equity, the digital divide is the gap between students with access to and sufficient knowledge of technology and those without it. To understand this divide, we need to look at how a person gets and stays online. Students in families with two or more computers and many mobile phones with fast broadband internet are likely to perform better academically than students who share just one computer with the family and have two or fewer mobile phones. The digital divide can mean a lack of access to devices or even fast internet to enable a seamless educational approach without buffering.
In the United States, about 87 percent of households currently have access to at least one internet-enabled device like a computer, smartphone, or tablet, and about 73 percent have access to the internet—yet the digital divide remains. The problem spans across the world, and the pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide. According to UNESCO, globally, 826 million children do not have access to the internet or devices to help facilitate their education. Therefore, almost half of the world is hyperconnected and unable to stay away from their screens, the other half is detached, even in some developed countries with no dearth of devices or high-speed internet.
Students experience a digital divide in education across the world. There are four significant impacts on the student’s life due to the lack of technology.
Families with limited resources have less access to information that will improve or advance their children’s education.
Students with access to technology at school and home will always do better when they enter universities, as universities embrace technology faster.
Less privileged students have limited access to smart devices and face more challenges in accessing online education resources.
Students with access to technology are at an advantage. They spend fewer hours completing learning objectives than students who have limited connectivity or device access.
These impact students learning and impede their long-term success.
eLearning enables academic institutions to teach without direct tutor instruction. eLearning not only empowers students’ knowledge and skills but also acts as the agent for instructions.
While some countries open up their schools and welcome students, others keep their students’ homes to study until the pandemic subsides. In some instances, education might move permanently online. As governments work hard to provide students with resources to study from home, the best option is to engage students with eLearning.
The complex problems of the digital divide require solutions that reduce technological inequality. eLearning supplements student engagement as it helps them receive practical instruction without geographic or technical limitations.
Straive has been at the forefront of eLearning solutions for several years. We have enhanced eLearning solutions with source, process, and technical knowledge gained while being a preferred partner of leading educational institutions and publishers.
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