It’s long been a concern for some educators – giving homework or activities to be done overnight online and expecting all students to be able to get the job done.
For any number of reasons, this sort of fast internet access isn’t available to all students. The typical reason is families not being able to or not choosing to afford a home computer and/or internet access in the home. It’s a very real scenario for some families. It’s also becoming an issue that governments and government services are going to have to come to grips with as more and more of their services go online.
In education, the typical recommendation has been to suggest that students go to the public library and use the wireless connections and computers there. It does seem like a logical solution until you consider the travel time getting there and returning. That time could be spent otherwise doing the rest of the homework or just going outside to play and be a kid. It’s been my experience that this great advice only lasts a couple of days before it gets tiresome.
There is also the concern of equity. The process further separates the study-style of students who come from families that are able to provide connectivity at home versus those who can’t or won’t. Going somewhere just to do homework can also miss out on the sort of accidental learning that happens when you’re just connected and start to branch off into different directions on a whim. When you’re going to a location specifically to do the homework, it becomes just another task to get done quickly and move on to other things.
I’ve long been an advocate for making computers and internet access tax deductible to help ease the pain on families and to give the government a chance to make a stand on how important school and connectivity can be. It’s not here yet but a guy can always hope. The recent news about Ontario making higher education free for lower income families is promising. We just now have to prepare those students with the tools to make them successful if they take the province up on the offer.
I read an interesting article this morning that offers another alternative.
The concept is intriguing. Take an internet connected bus and park it near students who could really use internet access in the evening. I would encourage you to read the article and think about what might be. Perhaps forward it to your administration or local trustee if you think it’s appropriate for the students that enter your classroom. It would be an interesting concept to pilot – there’s probably some sort of grant money to make it happen – and see if your community is ready to embrace it.