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How the Digital Divide impacts students, teachers, and parents

Bowling Green, Kentucky (October 20, 2023) - The gap created by the Digital Divide can be found in communities everywhere, but it was especially evident in one Oklahoma town when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation.

Crescent, Oklahoma, a city about 40 miles from Oklahoma City, has a population of roughly 1,300 people. Many citizens in this small, tight-knit community spend their whole lives there. As the video below shares, school is the heart of the community, and in March 2020, it skipped a beat.

COVID affected everyone in Crescent. It revealed the need for educators to be innovative and creative in finding ways to engage students, all while learning to use remote learning technology themselves. Once they figured out the technology, they realized an even greater need — access to reliable internet to connect with their students.

Discovering that many students did not have access to the internet was shocking to coach and teacher, Joe Knapp, who said, “You’d think today, in today’s, time more kids would have better access.” In order to support its students, schools put hotspots on buses and parked them in various areas around the community so that students could access them to do their work.

Despite the schools making an effort to increase access, parents and students came to a standstill during this time. Parents had to quickly learn how to help their students use technology to do their work. Students lacked the motivation to get their schoolwork done from the comfort of their own homes, and they missed out on interaction in the classroom, in extracurriculars, and with classmates. It was a challenging time for everyone in the community.

Internet access — and the digital literacy skills required to effectively use it — is vital for educators, parents, and students, and that continues to be true long after the pandemic shutdown. “You come to any school and you’re going to see the divide,” said Principal Lauren Kelly of Crescent Elementary. “As students don’t have access and don’t have the supports that they need, I foresee we’re going to see these problems for quite a while.”

To watch the video click HERE, or click on the video below!