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Blog // Connect Ohio

The 21st Century Homework Gap: A Connect Ohio Policy Blog from the Executive Director

By Lindsay Shanahan

Last week I wrote a blog about E-rate and the actions over the last two years to modernize the program. In her statement on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-rate Modernization Order, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel also urged the FCC to account for what she is calling the “Homework Gap.” In doing so, the Commissioner states what Connect Ohio has long known to be true: “[i]f you are a student in a household without broadband, just getting homework done is hard.”

According to Connect Ohio’s research, 72% of Ohio households subscribe to broadband, which represents a six percentage point increase since 2010. For many families, having school-aged children in the home can serve as a motivating factor for subscribing to broadband. As stated in the recent post by our Communications Specialist, Brad Ingles, home broadband adoption among Ohio households with children increased four percentage points from 76% to 80% during 2010-2013 and steadily remained above the statewide residential broadband adoption rate each year.

This adoption gap, which perpetuates the “homework gap,” particularly affects rural and rural Appalachian regions, which display home broadband adoption rates of 70% and 63%, respectively, and is especially heightened among low-income households, which have a home broadband adoption rate of 48% across rural and non-rural.

Some Ohio residents are turning to mobile broadband as an avenue to stay connected both inside and outside the home. When harnessed accordingly, mobile broadband access can be an effective method to leverage information technology to improve educational outcomes. Yet, in 2013 only 50% of Ohio residents had a mobile broadband subscription.

Today, broadband and mobile technologies are poised to transform the way students learn and teachers provide instruction. Indeed, long-gone are the days when “my dog ate my homework” was the worst excuse for missing an assignment. Through our technical assistance work we’ve heard many stories of children going to fast food restaurants to do homework or sitting outside a home improvement store that had Wi-Fi. As stated by Connected Nation in its E-rate comments, “[s]tudents, regardless of family circumstance, need the ability to access and utilize educational technology and applications both on school premises and beyond school grounds – at home, in the library, and wherever else they choose to do homework.”

If you’ve seen evidence of the broadband adoption gap or the “homework gap” in your community, please contact us! Next week I’ll be writing about the potential benefits to Ohio and the homework gap as the FCC looks to modernize the Lifeline program toward broadband support.





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