The homework gap: Teacher perspectives on closing the digital divide

Common Sense published a new study that surveyed teachers vis-à-vis the use of digital technology in classrooms to provide in-depth understanding to the homework gap in the United States; which refers to ‘the divide between students who have home access to broadband Internet and the digital tools needed to be academically successful and those who do not.’ This further entails challenges on three different levels: infrastructure, broadband competition, and cost pertaining to the digital divide. ‘There are 12 million students in this country who fall into the homework gap and lack the regular broadband access they need to just do nightly schoolwork. From my perspective, this is the cruelest part of the digital divide, and it’s a divide we’re going to have to address, and a gap we’re going to have to fix,’ highlighted Federal Communications Commission (FFC) commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. The study revealed that not all students have access to Internet or computer at home. Twelve percent of teachers surveyed reported that the majority of their students (over 60%) lack home access to the Internet or a computer to do schoolwork at home. Teachers in schools with predominantly students of color (34%) say that this would limit their students’ learning if their students did not have adequate access to broadband Internet or a computing device at home to do homework, compared to teachers in schools with mixed populations or teachers in schools with predominantly white students (26% and 27%, respectively). Common Sense called upon policymakers to tackle the challenges of broadband access from digital equity perspective since the homework gap requires thoughtful policy solutions.