Digital Equity: What Is It and Why Is It Important?
By Kellie Hale
You may have been hearing the term “Digital Equity” in the news a lot more lately. What is digital equity? Well, it is a vital necessity for “civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.” The overall goal of digital equity is to make sure that students from rural and urban communities have equal access to technology (e.g., software, the Internet). It is also vital that students have adequately trained educators to help navigate with these tools.
Listen, education and the workforce is becoming more digitized. It is a trend that will not slow down, especially with Covid and its different variants. When talking about students, it is crucial to consider that different types of students need access to technology, and it is not only about those from urban or rural communities. It also provides students with physical or learning challenges with adequate resources, along with female and minority students who may not get the same opportunities otherwise. All kids should have access and support to help them with their education and career pathways.
“A lack of digital access is a lack of access to education period,” said Terry Godwaldt, director of programming at The Center for Global Education in Canada.
Where are we at with digital equity? Well, it starts with digital infrastructure. This issue can primarily affect rural areas because it relates to if residents have broadband availability in the region. It is also about whether they can access digital services with sufficient speeds. Finally, this issue addresses whether students and working professionals have the monetary needs and knowledge to benefit from technology effectively.
As we have seen, the past two years have highlighted the digital divide. We hear stories about how schools do not have adequate digital devices for individual students. With parents working from home, sometimes families stress over who gets access to the computer or gets time for Wi-Fi. It is somewhat premature to indicate or suggest that the playing field with digital equity has been leveled. While the devices and increased bandwidth may have improved since the beginning of the pandemic, a different challenge has risen. It is now vital for educators to relook how they use technology in the classroom to offer technology-powered opportunities.
Technology can help students enhance their critical thinking skills and teach them how to collaborate with others while allowing them to be creative. It is the path for students to become life-long learners. These skills will be crucial for students to have when entering the workforce.
Skilled teachers are essential to digital transformation.
Digital transformation is essential to providing meaningful learning to students who become skilled in crucial areas.
Skilled students with digital education become essential to the workforce.