The ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic were felt by all of us in so many different ways. From lack of affordable childcare to mental health challenges, it laid bare not only the disparities in our communities, but also the ripple effects of these disparities.
One of these disparities exists in the form of digital inequity, and the pandemic has given us a renewed understanding of its scope and impact.
Digital inequity can be broken down into different categories that are huge challenges unto themselves. One of these is the “homework gap”.
Nonprofit organizations and government bodies have been taking numerous steps to address the “homework gap”, and providing affordable mobile Internet services for students is one of them.
What is the Homework Gap?
The Federal Communications Commission Chairperson, Jessica Rosenworcel, coined the term “homework gap” in 2012. It refers to the difficulty several students face when completing homework assignments once they leave their school campus.
It manifests itself in the real world in data that shows seven out of ten teachers assign homework that requires Internet access. But FCC data consistently shows that approximately one in three households don’t have broadband at home.
Some of the biggest causes of the “homework gap” are:
- Lack of affordable Internet access: A 2020 study by Pew Research found that 59% of parents with lower income said their children faced digital obstacles when it came to completing their homework.
- Limited or absent Internet connectivity in large parts of the U.S: According to the FCC, nearly one-fourth of people in rural areas lack access to fixed broadband at threshold speeds.
- Limited access to Internet-enabled devices: The nonprofit newsroom, The Hechinger Report, shares that a lack of Internet-enabled devices like a laptop or computer result in a large number of students being unable to participate in remote learning.
Why We Need To Close the Homework Gap
In an interview with Education Week, Jessica Rosenworcel says, “the homework gap” is an ‘especially cruel’ part of the digital divide.
A few reasons government organizations and nonprofits are working to close the homework gap are:
- Solving the “homework gap” is integral to bridging the digital divide. When students from underserved communities fall behind on homework because they lack access to the Internet and Internet-enabled devices, it has a ripple effect on their current experiences and future prospects.
- When students progress through grades, they are assigned more homework that needs access to the Internet. A 2019 study by Common Sense Media found that 41% of teachers assigned homework at least once a week that needed students to be connected to the Internet.
- The “homework gap” disproportionately impacts underserved communities. The Hechinger Report, while sharing data from a 2021 report, notes that approximately 15 percent of students from lower-income families still lack reliable internet at home. New federal funds are aimed at changing that, but they don’t stretch far enough.
How Can Affordable Mobile Internet Services for Students Help Close the Homework Gap?
Just like every big challenge, addressing the “homework gap” requires a multi-pronged approach.
In addition to more funding for schools and public-private partnerships that create Internet infrastructure in underserved areas, affordable Internet services for students are a useful tool that will help us close the “homework gap”.
- Affordable Mobile Internet Services For Students: As several school districts and nonprofit organizations have already demonstrated, affordable mobile Internet devices like Wi-Fi-enabled hotspots can play a huge role in closing the “homework gap”.
- Internet Access That Empowers Teachers, Staff & Communities: Affordable mobile Internet services and hotspots for schools also help teachers and school staff accomplish their roles in a more effective manner.
Access to training resources, the ability to provide personalized attention to students, and the ability to stay connected with families of students are all ways in which affordable Internet service for students serve a larger purpose than enabling students to complete their homework, which in itself is an integral part of school life.
Affordable Internet service and mobile hotspots for students from Mobile Citizen can help schools bridge gaps in Internet access to create a more equitable learning environment for all students. To explore opportunities for your school, please contact our experts in the Mobile Citizen Customer Service Center at 877-216-9603.