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Educators and Parents Can Partner to Bridge the Digital Divide

Row of schoolchildren studying in front of a computerThe experts at SchoolMart.com explore the topic of the ‘digital divide,’ and provide examples of technology integration initiatives that have had positive effects on U.S. schools.

Low income school districts across the country increasingly find themselves on the wrong side of what is known as the ‘Digital Divide’ – the gap in technology and internet access between children from middle to high income and low income households. In addition,   (ESL) with demanding jobs. These parents are often unable to provide the technology resources their children need at home in order to thrive in school.

Educators and administrators increasingly feel that the inaccessibility of technology at home is a growing problem that demands immediate attention. In reaction, school districts are carrying out initiatives such as giving every preK-12 child access to iPads. But the fact remains that giving a child a tablet is not enough to close the digital gap. Students need matching pro-technology reforms in their homes.

In the United States, there is no high-speed internet access in approximately 5 million homes with school-age children. Both educators and the Federal Government are in agreement that digital citizenship is vital to the improved learning of school-age children, and should be considered parental responsibility. President Obama has made the Digital Divide a matter of national importance, as evidenced by ConnectED: an executive campaign whose goal is 99% high speed internet access for all US school kids.

Although parents understand the importance of technology to their children’s education, many families are unable to make it a top priority. In reaction, particularly in rural communities, schools should begin teaming up with parents to create pro-technology partnerships.

A Win-Win Situation

Integrating technology into schools both improves student performance and strengthens school-parent relations. The most successful programs for integrating technology into education will be the ones that seek to provide a holistic approach to technology integration, providing not only the technology itself, but the training and evaluation needed to ensure its success.

Parents participating in these programs should be required to complete technology training prior to device roll-outs. During these sessions, they will learn the ins and outs of their kids’ new devices, and become familiar with the tools for checking on a child’s performance online. They will also gain a nuanced understanding of best practices for safe internet and digital technology use.

If schools intend to achieve the ultimate goal of 100% of technology-literate parents, they will need to employ aggressive campaign strategies. Providing childcare for parents in training, running phone drives, and bringing workshops to into community housing projects will all help parents to better understand the merits of getting on board as a family.

Alternate Routes

Schools all over the country are overcoming obstacles and using creative thinking to achieve their goals. School buses with WiFi that double as mobile neighborhood hotspots are just one of the creative solutions that have already yielded measured improvements in student academic performance. But while these initiatives are gaining steam, many children still rely on less-than-ideal strategies for accessing the internet.

If workarounds are the only way to break down the access barrier, it’s better than the barrier remaining.

If you are interested in integrating technology into your classroom or school, please contact SchoolMart.com today.