How the ‘digital divide’ plays a role in remote learning

The cost of tech advances can slam the book closed, on the educational growth for a growing number of area students.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 7:00 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Covid-19 leaves a lasting impact on the way we communicate with one another, forcing us to rely more on technology to bridge the distance. More than two years into the pandemic, those tech advances have become the “new normal”, especially in education.

School snow days that we enjoyed are becoming a thing of the past with advancements in online learning. For some Stateline students, this can become a burden, when the cost of remote learning threatens to shut them out of the classroom.

“If the digital divide is not bridged by the agencies like the Rockford public library, than a certain sect of our population remains in poverty,” said Rockford Public Library Marketing Director Bridget Finn. “Many people in our community take for granted the fact that they can just dial up any google questions they have on their phones.”

Finn says she learned about the so-called “digital divide” during the first year of the pandemic, when the demand for library’s technology services, quadrupled. She says many people across Rockford can’t afford access to internet, and that’s why the library feels it’s duty is to offer people free hot-spots and laptops.

“It’s something people need to work their jobs,” said Finn. “It’s something almost all children need for school now these days.”

Freeport School District Superintendent Anna Alvarado says she sees the same problems in her district, and the need keeps growing.

“Access, is something that is so important to me,” said Alvarado.

Alvarado says the Freeport School District is trying to make a difference. It set aside funding to offer Chromebooks to every student in the district. Both Finn and Alvarado agree, money shouldn’t be the reason a person can’t adapt with changing times.

“You can’t talk about transformational change, and technological educational change if you can’t give kids the resources,” said Alvarado.

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