Equitable internet access

Published: May 18th, 2021

Equitable internet access is currently a poignant issue in Australian education, and for good reason. Promethean’s State of Technology in Education Report 2021 recently revealed that student internet access was the top challenge faced by educators during the shift to remote learning, with 68% reporting it as an issue.

But while remote learning was unusual for most, it is the norm for many rural schools and communities – and inequitable internet access among students will be all too familiar for many educators.

The pandemic has shone a light on issues surrounding student internet access, but we believe this is tied into a much wider challenge: equitable access to education.

In this blog post, we’re going to explore how internet access and education access overlap, and how better infrastructure could improve opportunities for both students and teachers.

Broadening our educational horizons

Ensuring that students and teachers have equitable access to the internet will make a difference when it comes to accessing education itself. A few ways that reliable internet access can improve experiences include:

  • Introducing new expertise – through videoconferencing solutions like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, schools can bring subject matter experts into the classroom remotely to give their students access to new perspectives and expertise. This can put a fresh spin on curriculum topics and improve engagement – and it’s straightforward thanks to the ActivPanel’s compatibility with popular videoconferencing solutions.
  • Access a wider pool of teachers – temporary illnesses and unforeseen circumstances are a fact of life, and it’s reassuring to know that a substitute teacher can step in when somebody just can’t make it. When schools have a reliable internet connection, they have the option of bringing in a temporary teacher remotely so that education delivery can continue even if there’s a local shortage.
  • Minimise disruption – if the past 18 months taught us anything, it’s that the learning environment can change in a matter of days, or even hours. Whether it’s a mandatory self-isolation period or unique personal circumstances, being able to dial into a class remotely can minimise disruption for students so that they don’t miss lessons or the opportunity to speak to their friends.
  • Improve lines of communication – communicating with parents and guardians is an essential part of school life, and if a student is struggling for internet access it’s likely that their family members might be experiencing similar issues. Equitable internet access can make it easier for schools to communicate with parents and guardians, keeping everyone updated and engaged.

Equitable internet access and equitable access to education are undeniably intertwined, and it’s more important than ever that infrastructural improvements are made for the good of everybody involved in teaching and learning.

For more information on the topics mentioned in this blog, download the State of Technology in Education Report 2021 today.