Often, online technology, designed to help students, creates an uneven playing field in the classroom. “Homework gap” is the term used to describe the disparity between students who have reliable internet access at home and those who do not.
For students without home internet, completing homework can be challenging. They may have to go to a library or find another public place with Wi-Fi to complete assignments.
The homework gap can be difficult and time-consuming, especially when students have other commitments, such as after-school activities or a job. Here are ways schools can help students overcome the homework gap.
Provide Students With Hotspots
Did you know some nonprofit organizations provide hotspots for students to schools and libraries? Educational entities can also use mobile hotspots for schools to ensure students have reliable internet access in the classroom.
By checking out a hotspot, students don’t have to worry about overage charges if they usually use their smartphone’s data plan to do homework. Those who drive to a location with public internet access can save time and gas money. Not worrying about unnecessary spending or traveling makes it easier for students to focus on their education.
Create Lesson Plans With Unreliable Internet Access in Mind
Helping students with unreliable or nonexistent internet access means accounting for the digital divide when creating lesson plans. So, schools can create assignments that can be done offline or with limited internet access. For example, teachers can assign a research project that requires students to use books rather than the internet.
If school devices like tablets and laptops provide offline access, let students check them out and take them home. Schools with a computer lab can extend lab hours or offer open hours for those who don’t have internet access at home. Creating lesson plans with extended deadlines can give students enough time to use the internet at the public library or a friend’s house.
Teach Digital Literacy
The American Library Association defines digital literacy as, “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”
Schools can help overcome the homework gap by teaching digital literacy. Lessons can include teaching students how to use the internet effectively and safely. It also involves helping them understand how to find reliable information online. Schools can teach digital literacy skills in the classroom or through after-school programs.
Seek Funding From Private Organizations and Federal Grants
Principals and school district leaders may not realize it, but they could have access to outside resources that can help overcome the homework gap. For instance, federal grants and private organizations may provide additional funding for technological support. Schools can use the money to purchase laptops or hotspots and distribute them to students.
Understand Student Internet Access
Schools can only address issues they understand. To better overcome the homework gap, schools can survey students to find out what kind of internet and technology access they have outside the classroom.
Schools can use the survey results to accommodate students better and understand their difficulties. For instance, completing online research projects and worksheets may prove challenging if a student can only access the internet through a smartphone. Likewise, those who must share a computer at home with unreliable internet access may experience disruptions while completing homework assignments.
The homework gap is an obstacle for many students, but schools can help them overcome it. By being mindful of the issue and taking steps to address it, educators can help level the playing field for all students.