Tag: Cox Business

Head of The Class: Cox Predicts Education’s Next Steps To Bridge The Digital Divide

Steve Westerman
Steve Westerman

By Steve Westerman, vice president, Cox Business

Technology impacts nearly every aspect of our daily lives, and education is no exception. It has transformed school systems, enhanced the learning experience and created an engaging environment for students of all ages. But not all communities are equally equipped to thrive in the digital age.

The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the decades-old issue known as the digital divide. It’s the lopsided demographic gap between those who have access to modern technology and those who don’t. Even as kids have returned to class, this inequity persists across school districts and at home.

As of 2021 a quarter of the population still did not have broadband internet connection at home – a necessary gateway for homework, studying, and both peer and teacher connections. And Cox Communications recently surveyed more than 2,000 of its affordable internet customers and found nearly half (48 percent) had obtained home internet access for the first time through Cox.

As classrooms move from remote-only learning to increasingly digital spaces, there are ways school systems and community leaders can work together to tackle today’s digital divide issues for more equitable education.

Certain areas, demographics will require more support

The digital divide reduces a student’s economic outlook for lifehen they start behind their peers, they are likelier to stay behind. And the opposite is true: Greater internet and tech access leads to a greater long-term economic return.

According to Cox Communications’ survey of affordable internet customers, 90 percent of households say Cox internet access has had a positive impact on their children’s education, specifically in helping them complete homework, attend school virtually and access learning resources.

However, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) recently reported that in its state alone, full digital access remains lower among Latino (63 percent), Black (71 percent) and low-income households with school-aged (K-12) children (59 percent). This disparity makes it difficult for students to compete for secondary education and higher paying jobs.

Rural areas, too, continue to lag compared to their urban and suburban counterparts, though adoption is growing. According to Pew Research, “while broadband adoption has not significantly increased for urban and suburban Americans in the last five years, rural residents have seen a nine-percentage point rise in home broadband adoption since 2016.”

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Classroom Connectivity and The Year Ahead: What Internet Infrastructure Districts Need To Power 2021

By Bridget Duff, director of vertical sales solutions, education, Cox Business.

Bridget Duff

As the end of second semester nears, a lot has changed in education. Hybrid learning is the norm: students and teachers alike have adjusted to online learning in some form. Yet some things haven’t changed.

According to a recent study by Connected Nation, K-12 schools continue facing a sizeable digital learning gap, with 67% of students (31.5 million) currently in schools lacking the recommended internet connectivity speed of 1 megabits per second per student.

As we look to the year ahead, it’s clear that hybrid and online learning won’t be taking a back seat. If anything, innovation and digital literacy will become more important to educating students for the future. So, how can districts prepare to power the year ahead and beyond? By starting at the source – their IT infrastructure.

The Grace Period is Over

Earlier this year, the digital divide was more apparent than ever. Schools scrambled to connect students and faculty that lacked internet and personal devices at home. Teachers rushed to take their curriculums online and create an engaging learning environment. Districts struggled to maintain student success as absenteeism grew. In short, everyone was working around the clock to pick up the slack – but the time has come for a long-term solution.

A recent study by University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development and non-profit EdTech Evidence Exchange found that 86% of educators believe technology needs in schools will increase over the next three years. It also found that a similar majority think students will require more individualized instruction to meet their needs.

As we move beyond COVID-19, we should embrace the myriad applications for hybrid learning that can benefit the classroom. Now that schools have experienced executing virtual learning, they will likely find it useful for   other situations – like inclement weather days, student sick days or to supplement in-class learning for students that need additional instruction and practice. Not only will the need for a robust infrastructure not subside, it will very likely continue to increase.

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