COVID-19 has greatly accelerated the education system’s move to remote learning. What was previously a slow growing option suddenly became the only option in many school districts. Yet households and students have uneven access to the necessary resources for successful remote learning. This is raising questions about the ramifications the “Digital Divide” is having on access to education. Many organizations are fast-tracking initiatives to reduce the Digital Divide and its impact on educational opportunities.
These issues and approaches to bridging the Digital Divide were explored in this webinar.
Panelists included representatives from the University of Regina, City of Chicago, (Chicago Connected Initiative), City of Toronto Connected Communities, Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board:
Alice Xu, Manager, City of Toronto Technology Services Division.
Aakriti Kapoor, Research Coordinator, Research & Development Department & Peter Singh, Executive Officer, IT & IM Services, Toronto District School Board.
Omar Malik, Acting Chief Information Officer, Toronto Catholic District School Board.
Casey Baxley, Digital Inclusion Policy Fellow, City of Chicago.
Dr. Cheryl Camillo, Assistant Professor, Johnson Shoyama School of Public Policy, University of Regina.
The panel discussion focused on these core questions:
Research tells us that all students have suffered learning loss through virtual learning but children from poor/marginalised backgrounds have experienced the greatest learning loss. What initiatives could be taken to minimize their loss, and how can those initiatives be sustained and expanded further?
In your view, what is the most important gap in Government action that is needed to address the digital divide?
We all understand that there are many different stakeholders – including school boards, educational institutions, parents, community-based organizations and centres and businesses. Do you have suggestions for how a greater degree of collaboration could be facilitated or encouraged to maximize outcomes?