SALT LAKE CITY — A new report indicates up to 3 million students in the United States struggle to stay on top of homework because they have no access to the internet at home.
According to The Associated Press, these students exist in a “homework gap,” where 17 percent of students in the U.S. don’t have access to a computer at home, while 18 percent of students don’t have access to the internet.
So why is this such an issue? The Atlantic reports that while past generations of high school students could do their homework by hand, 70 percent of teachers now assign homework that must be completed online. This can lead to half of students in the bottom-income bracket doing their work on smartphones or at public hotspots, while the rest tend to fall behind.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, technology can be used to enhance and improve learning in the classroom and at home. Virtual high schools — including the Utah Electronic High School — can provide education to homeschooled teens or dropouts, and open resources are becoming readily available for teachers and students to use.
However, the AP notes that school districts rely on grants and other sources of funding to provide laptops or tablets to students — and when that aid dries up, poor and minority students can struggle in an increasingly digital curriculum.
Hartford's Journalism and Media Academy has offered after-school dinner programs or time for students to work on online assignments during class, but English teacher Susan Johnston said pen and paper assignments are on their way out.
“I have kids all the time who are like, 'Miss, can you just give me a paper copy of this?' And I'm like, 'Well, no, because I really need you to get familiar with technology because it's not going away,'" she said.
Fortunately, Utah students likely won’t struggle as much since access to technology is more available than in Connecticut. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 93.5 percent of Utah households have computers, while 83.7 percent have access to the internet as of 2017. In comparison, the Census Bureau found 88.2 percent of Connecticut homes have computers while 82.1 percent have broadband internet.