Roughly one in three households in the U.S. earning less than $25,000 each year have broadband Internet access, according to this infographic from Online Degree Programs titled “The Internet Access Gap in Education.”
And, as it turns out, in Baltimore, 35 percent of households earn less than $25,000 each year, according to Vital Signs 10 data from the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (See page 4).
As Technically Baltimore has previously reported, lack of quality, affordable broadband access is a contentious issue for cities without municipal-owned broadband networks, including Baltimore.
Yet mere availability of broadband divorced from real-world educational outcomes achieves nothing more than the “shiny object” effect: having something available without a corresponding curricular program. As Shelly Blake-Plock, co-executive director of the Digital Harbor Foundation said at the opening of the Digital Harbor Tech Center in January, the goal of technology in the classroom is to link the “way we educate our kids to the way we innovate our ideas.”
Furthermore, it’s tempting to view that 35 percent number in a wholly negative light, and marvel at the remaining 65 percent of households making less than $25,000 that purportedly lack broadband access.
Of course, as recent Pew Research Center data indicates, such a vision is simplistic. Smartphones, more ubiquitous than ever before, are increasingly the way in which more sizable segments of the U.S. population access the Internet.
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