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How to Bridge the Digital Divide in Academics?

Digital-Divide-Concept

With the COVID-19 pandemic shunning the physical mode of education, going digital is the only option. Or else our academic career will come to a halt. Obviously, we won’t want the latter to happen? This transition from physical to online classes has been a boon for the privileged, but what about others? Does this ‘digital education’ hold any meaning to the students of third-world and underdeveloped countries? There is no proper answer to this phenomenon. Whatever it is, our approach to the digital divide in academics has been largely shaped by this pandemic outbreak. The question is whether to embrace it or not and, if yes, ‘HOW?’ irrespective of the socio-economic conditions of learners.

Concept of the Digital Divide

Digital Divide refers to the gap between a region and demographics not having access to new technologies. In other words, this term is used to classify people or regions having state-of-the amenities and unlimited access to the latest IT infrastructure.

Factors

Well, the digital divide includes a lot of factors. A few of these aspects are:

  • Social factors like age, gender, family composition, ethnicity, education, etc.
  • Technological factors like access to the latest IT infrastructure, internet, etc.
  • Economic factors in the form of earnings, infrastructure, GDP, education, etc.

Digital Divide in Education

Every country faces problems in the education realm in some way or another. However, the situation becomes intense when students from lower financial backgrounds compete with the privileged class. You may find it surprising to hear that it’s a glaring problem even in developed countries like the UK, US, and Australia. However, developing nations like India, Argentina, China, Brazil, and Guyana are feeling this heat in the severest form.

The extent of the Digital Divide in the US and other countries

The digital divide has been there for years, but the recent pandemic has boosted its growth. Before the spring of 2020, remote learning is primarily meant for students of the upper class. In November 2021, we can state that the demolition of this popular notion has been done but not completed. Here are few points to note:

  • According to a study, 73% of the 100 largest districts in America have advocated full-fledged online learning, as there was no other option amidst the pandemic.
  • A similar assessment by Pew Research Centre highlighted that more than 36% of low-income students couldn’t accomplish their course module for they didn’t have a computer. It is very high when compared to 14% of middle-income groups and 4% of upper-class students.

India is one of the few countries in the world where the disparity in income is very much prevalent between the rich and poor. Now, you may think, in which way it is related to education? With schools, colleges, universities, and coaching centres being shut down in this pandemic, the only available option for learning is the online exam help.

  • According to the NSS report on Social Consumption, only 23.8% of Indian households had internet access in 2017-18.
  • This number drops to 12.5% when we consider Indian households with students. According to a research study, more than 50% of Indian households face the problem of poor internet connectivity.
  • Even learners from premier institutions like IIT and IIM are also facing these issues.

According to experts offering networking assignment help, the digital divide problem is also evident in countries like Argentina, South Africa, Jamaica, Brazil, Kenya, and Nigeria. These nations are also struggling to provide the adequate infrastructure needed for seamless internet connectivity.

However, the demand for e-learning has also accelerated in these regions owing to the ‘Great Lockdown’ that transpired multiple innovative ideas across the nations to enhance internet accessibility and thereby catering to the popularity of e-schooling.

Bridging the gap in online learning

So, now you may be wondering how to ease this digital divide for the benefit of poor, LEP, and minority students. Three possibilities that immediately come to our mind are:

  • Provide learners and parents with take-home technologies
  • Enhance parents’ and students’ access through community centres.
  • Improve learners’ access to technology and also the quality of that access in their schools and classrooms.

Besides these aspects, there are several other strategies that can be initiated at the managerial level. But for this, you have to go through the above statistics first. You can clearly notice the disparity in the socioeconomic status of learners and the ways it is affecting their right to basic education, especially in this pandemic-driven world. To bridge this gap, policymakers and educational leaders have come up with certain strategies as listed below:

  • Survey the educational needs of families greatly affected by the digital divide.
  • Engage in conversations with leaders regarding the techniques to fund extra resources.
  • Tie-up with technology companies and potential donors with the objective of digital resource partnerships.
  • Scrutinize the present digital divide in education based on the school conditions, and thereafter, allocate resources to fulfil the gap.
  • Impart necessary training and information technology support to parents and educators in the most impacted areas.
  • Devise a plan with educational institutions on how to fix the gap in the long-term.

It’s not only about the students, but also the teachers. Fixing the gap in the digital divide means addressing the requirements of both parties. So, the learning institutions that aim to be leaders in the realm of instructional technology must do the following:

  • Ensure that instructors have the necessary technical support.
  • Make sure that teachers have access to the essential hardware/software they need for teaching purposes.
  • Give training on how to blend technology into instruction, not just the technology itself.
  • Focus on practical training for problem solving and language development.
  • Train instructors on how to choose, and more importantly, assess software and websites.
  • Inspire teachers to be a part of telecollaborative projects via the web and video conferencing.

Standing in the 21st century, we must realize the significance of bridging the digital divide, or else it will be too late. There are absolutely no chances to keep a specific race of people isolated from availing the benefits of hi-tech privileges.

Needless to say, the best approach to this issue is to computerize the entire system adequately. All the other aspects will get fixed on their own. It is particularly recommended for people of the third world, where access to modern technology is largely curbed due to inadequate infrastructure and high demographics.

Wrapping Up

In this case, the privileged class has to play the role of a pioneer. The world can change only with collaborative efforts considering the path of education equity is a never-ending process. Nowadays, several countries have taken significant steps to end the digital divide in schools, colleges, and universities, but it’s not enough. The pandemic outbreak has highlighted its significance in the most vivid terms. Whatever the future has in store for us, let’s unite to make ‘online education for all’ while working on the shortcomings.

Author Bio:

James Murray is a reputed subject matter expert in economics assignment help and has been employed at Manchester University for more than five years. He has been writing academic blogs and articles for EssayAssignmenthelp.com for more than a year. Students opt for his assignment help service due to his friendly approach towards learners. His passions include travelling, photography, hiking, and boating.

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