Digital Divide

Digital education may be the future of education, but most American schools are far from ready. This Hechinger Report series examines a national effort to close the digital divide by connecting all American schools to high-speed Internet, and why so many schools still lag so far behind.



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Getting kids online at home is key to closing the digital divide — and harder than you might think

By Rachel Monahan

KENT, WA — As students stream off the schools buses here, the typical end-of-day scene unfolds with a twist. Thrown over the kids’ shoulders are sleek black laptop bags with the name of their district emblazoned on them. As part of an effort to bridge the so-called digital divide – the gap between rich and […]

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to approve a tax increase that will fund a $1.5 billion cap increase for E-Rate. (Photo credit: Nichole Dobo, The Hechinger Report)

FCC votes to increase E-rate funding for school technology

By Nichole Dobo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to approve a tax increase that will generate $1.5 billion more each year on technology for the nation’s schools and libraries. School leaders, technology advocates and many businesses urged the government to spend more money to bring schools and libraries up to date. With the increase, […]

(Photo by Sarah Garland)

Technology skills only scratch the surface of the digital divide

By Jordan Shapiro

The realities of the “digital divide” are increasingly apparent. In a consumer culture that equates status with early adoption of the newest iPhone, access to new technology necessarily splits pretty clearly along socio-economic class lines. According to U.S. census data, for example, more than 30 million homes have no broadband access, most of them concentrated […]

Babak Mostaghimi, pictured at Town Hall in Duncan. Mostaghimi works with residents of Duncan through a grassroots coalition organized in hopes of improving education and community health in the region. (Photo by Aubrey Edwards/Next City)

When schools can’t get online

By Nichole Dobo

The community built a new barn, right next to their elementary school. They hung a sign over its red doorway, naming it Sunshine Farms. Inside, the children began conducting science lessons by collecting data on animals. The barn contained 11 hens, two lambs, and one laptop protected with plastic wrap. Until last year, the school […]

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What it actually takes for schools to ‘go digital’

By Margaret Ramirez

Statesville, N.C. – As a hazy morning sun rises over the rural farm community surrounding North Iredell Middle School, the students take their seats and lift their MacBooks to start the school day. Soon, the glow of hundreds of screens illuminates each face in every classroom. Inside Skye Templeton’s seventh-grade Social Studies class, students are […]

A student in Jennifer Harmsen’s seventh-grade social studies classroom at Hillsborough Middle School watches a video on his Chromebook about life in ancient Rome. (Photo: Meghan E. Murphy)

Are iPads or Chromebooks better for schools?

By Meghan E. Murphy

For an entire school year Hillsborough, New Jersey, educators undertook an experiment, asking: Is the iPad really the best device for interactive learning? It’s a question that has been on many minds since 2010, when Apple released the iPad and schools began experimenting with it. The devices came along at a time when many school […]

Kiara McPherson and Jeremiah Hilliard, two students at Em Boyd Elementary, work on a science project. Students say they prefer the iPads to the desktop computers that they used to use in class.

In Mississippi schools, access to technology lacking, uneven

By Jackie Mader

CLINTON, Miss.—When Kelsi Collins was first given a laptop last year at Clinton High School, she hesitated to change from years of reading textbooks and writing assignments by hand to researching topics and typing papers online. It didn’t help that, after she’d ignored teachers’ warnings to back up her work, her computer crashed and she […]

Fifth graders Aiyanah Tyler, Trinity Coker and Hakim Walker work with 13-inch Apple MacBooks from late 2009 running Mac OS 10.8.5 at James G Blaine K-8 school in Philadelphia Monday, June 2, 2014. (John Brecher / NBC News)

Can high-poverty urban districts like Philadelphia close the digital divide?

By Sarah Garland

When it comes to speedy Internet access in schools, which technology advocates say will be critical to ensuring that American students stay competitive globally, Philadelphia is way ahead of many districts across the country. In the Obama administration’s new ConnectED initiative, an effort to redirect $2 billion in federal funding to put high-speed broadband in […]

Shift to online testing drives California schools to close tech gap

By Pat Wingert

The largest field test in the country of new online assessments aligned to the Common Core got underway in California this spring, and as it speeds up the state’s transition to the rigorous new standards, it may also help close the digital divide. “This is the tipping point,” said Diane Hernandez, director of assessment development […]

Technology offers special help in special ed

By Gail Robinson

Many teachers, parents and administrators say that laptops, tablets and the various apps help engage and motivate special ed students, while also making it easier for teachers to individualize instruction and track progress.

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