Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind

Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind

Published By: The New York Times, 2/22/2017

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The federal government is attempting to bridge the growing digital divide in low-income families by expanding a subsidy program, Lifeline, to include broadband Internet access. The Federal Communications Commission’s main goal in revising Lifeline is to address the increasing number of students without the online access needed to complete schoolwork. Other methods used to patch this divide, such as wifi-equipped buses and school-provided hotspots, can be logistically difficult and stressful for students.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Article: 9.2

Extended Discussion Questions

  • How would you help the students in your classroom or your school gain the access they need to complete their schoolwork?
    • For example, are there good hotspots you know of nearby that you can suggest?
  • What other things could your school try, to increase students’ access to the Internet?
  • What other things could the federal government try?
  • How could the government’s revision of Lifeline affect Internet service providers and how they provide their services? (Prompt: What about poor and rural areas with little or no network connectivity?)
  • (If you’ve talked about net neutrality in depth) Part of the controversy over adding broadband Internet to Lifeline is that it supports the idea of broadband being a “common carrier” like landline telephone service, meaning it can therefore be heavily regulated. Thinking about what you’ve heard about “net neutrality” and the (still ongoing) debate over whether broadband should be considered a common carrier…
    • Does thinking about it in terms of net neutrality change your view of making broadband part of Lifeline?
    • Does Lifeline and the issue of “the homework divide” change your view about whether broadband should be a common carrier?

Global Impact Learning Objectives:

  • LO 7.1.1 Explain how computing innovations affect communication, interaction, and cognition.
  • LO 7.4.1 Explain the connections between computing and real-world contexts, including economic, social, and cultural contexts.

Global Impact Essential Knowledge:

  • EK 7.1.1N The Internet and the Web have changed many areas, including e-commerce, health care, access to information and entertainment, and online learning.
  • EK 7.4.1C The global distribution of computing resources raises issues of equity, access, and power.
  • EK 7.4.1D Groups and individuals are affected by the “digital divide” — differing access to computing and the Internet based on socioeconomic or geographic characteristics
  • EK 7.4.1E Networks and infrastructure are supported by both commercial and governmental initiatives.

Other CSP Big Ideas:

  • Idea 6 The Internet

Banner Image:Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop“, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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