This is an issue that is incredibly important to me and my work as a librarian. Last year when the decision was made to cut 56% of funding for public libraries in Saskatchewan, I immediately took action. I think a lot of people take for granted that everyone has a phone, a laptop or other device(s). But that is not the case, many people rely on their public or school library so that they can complete assignments using library computers, find health information, read a newspaper or a million other things that require Internet access. Many communities around Saskatchewan also lack access to high speed Internet and in many case are reliant on dial-up. Especially for students, they should not face this unnecessary barrier between them and an enriching education.
Another issue that I can see is that keeping up with technology can be daunting. For example, I have an iPhone 5, I am currently 5 generations behind. Can I keep up with technology that is constantly changing? What happens in a low-income family?
On the flip side of the digital equity issue, I was recently told a story about a university professor who forced all of their students to hand write an essay in-class. Some of the students were very upset that they were not allowed to use their laptops. The professor simply stated, not all of the students in this class have access to a laptop, but all of you have pens and paper. Plagiarism is also an issue in many classrooms, with students even taking assignments home and having their parents ‘help’ them. The professor in this case, was making an effort to ‘equalize’ the class, but also to make a point about doing the work yourself.