Pam Cheema, a fellow student in my PIDP 3240 class, shared the link to the article below on internet access in the US and how many students without access struggle to complete homework assignments that increasingly have online components.
This comment really got me thinking in particular:
“Ms. Rosenworcel cited research showing that seven in 10 teachers now assign homework that requires web access. Yet one-third of kindergartners through 12th graders in the United States, from low-income and rural households, are unable to go online from home.”
After reading the article I decided to look into how Canada stacks up, thinking that this must be a more pronounced problem in the US. What I found however is that while we have a higher percentage of households with internet access (86.8% as compared to 81% in the US), digital divides still exist. Here are some statistics from the article below that made me step back:
- 95 per cent of Canadians in the highest income quartile are connected to the Internet, yet only 62 per cent in the lowest income quartile have Internet access.
- Internet access varies by province. According to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Internet Use Survey in 2012, British Columbia and Alberta lead the nation in household Internet access with 86 per cent, followed by Ontario at 84 per cent. Household access is lowest in Quebec (78 per cent) and the east coast (Prince Edward Island, 78 per cent; New Brunswick, 77 per cent).
- Whereas broadband is available to 100 per cent of Canadians that live in urban areas, only 85 per cent of Canadians in rural areas have access. The urban/rural/remote divide is even more pronounced in the Canadian North. A 2010 report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) showed that 83.5 per cent of households in the Northwest Territories (NWT) had Internet access, 100 per cent of communities in the Yukon had access, yet only 27 per cent of communities in Nunavut had access. In the NWT, community level Internet access ranged from 17 per cent in the tiny hamlet of Wrigley, to 89.9 per cent in Yellowknife.
These are sobering stats and being aware of this should give all teachers and instructors pause when creating assignments. Giving options for assignments as suggested by Pam may be one solution but I think we will need to remain creative as others issues are sure to surface.