Education Department innovation and research grants program seen as successful model
July 20, 2017
The grant program gets high marks in a new study for relying on "tiered evidence" as a basis for awarding funding for education innovations.
Report explains challenges, potential solutions for reducing digital divide among nation's K-12 students.
Ryan Johnston is a contributing writer for Scoop News Group, parent of EdScoop....
A new paper details the barriers to digital equity in America’s schools and offers educators recommendations for funding ways to advance students’ access to high-speed broadband.
The paper, released by the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN), highlights why 24/7 access to broadband at home, as well as at school, is essential to student learning.
Citing Pew Research estimates, the CoSN report notes that roughly 5 million households with school-age children do not have high-speed internet access at home.
“Learning today is increasingly delivered digitally, and that requires robust connections anytime, anywhere. School leaders should focus not only on at-school broadband and Wi-Fi access, but also closing the ‘Homework Gap’ outside of school — particularly at home,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.
The lack of broadband access at home is part of a larger "school-to-home connection" challenge, however.
“Only 68 percent of school districts reported that they fully meet the 2014-2015 minimum Internet bandwidth recommendations set by the Federal Communications Commission in every one of their schools,” the CoSN paper says.
FCC figures dating back to 2009 found that 70 percent of teachers assigned homework involving broadband access, creating a “homework gap” among students without broadband access at home or school, the report says.
The paper details barriers to adequate and equal broadband access and provides alternatives to assessing and addressing needs. It also outlines benefits and drawbacks of multiple approaches to achieving digital equity, such as public Wi-Fi, school-provided hotspots, programs for low-income households and private LTE networks. And it provides examples of funding strategies to improve broadband access.
“Adeptness with computers, mobile devices, and the internet; experience working with digital resources, real-time and asynchronous collaboration in diverse geographies; and creation of digital artifacts such as documents, videos, e-mail and more are required to be prepared for college, successful in personal and civic life and competitive in the job market,” the paper asserts.
Inadequate access to the internet can stunt both academic and professional growth, it concludes.