The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deep digital divide among students and school districts – and also shown how to remedy it in future, says Asst. Prof. of Education Hsien-Yuan (Mark) Hsu
While many schools and districts are taking steps to address students’ access to computers and reliable internet service, research shows that they also need to address students’ lack of digital competence and confidence in relation to their studies, he says.
“This new generation of students in general, we teachers and professors all assume that because they’ve got smartphones, they can use all of these devices very well, but that’s not true,” Hsu says.
The pandemic has also exposed many teachers’ and professors’ digital deficits, Hsu says, highlighting the critical importance of academic technology staff and educators in coaching and supporting both students and teachers. As research in this area grows and schools realize the importance of incorporating digital literacy into the curriculum, Hsu predicts that the role of technology educators will expand.
“Experienced classroom teachers have very strong knowledge of their subjects and how to teach them, but they sometimes don’t have technological knowledge,” he says. “We’re learning that we need to teach students the ‘language’ of technology. And to do that, teachers need to have those skills and be held accountable for what their students can do.”