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ACM Opinion

When School Is Online, the Digital Divide Grows Greater

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empty classroom

Credit: Getty Images

Klint Finley is a contributing writer for Wired.

Millions of people in the U.S. lack reliable broadband Internet at home, either because they can't afford it or because it simply isn't available where they live. This digital divide has always left children and adults alike with fewer educational and economic opportunities. But with schools, libraries, and workplaces closed during the coronavirus pandemic, those without broadband are struggling to access schoolwork, job listings, unemployment benefit applications, and video chat services that others use to keep in touch with friends and family.

A report published last year by Microsoft estimated that 162.8 million people in the U.S. — about half the population — don't use broadband Internet.

The digital divide creates a challenge for teachers and administrators. Some schools are employing low-tech solutions, deliver and collect physical packets of learning materials and assignments to students who lack Internet at home.

From Wired
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