We must work collectively to close the digital divide, and I applaud LISD, The Colony City Council, Texas Education Agency and others working to improve access to technology by purchasing devices and internet hotspots for students.
The digital divide is a multifaceted local, state, and national problem. Affordability, access to computers and lack of digital literacy create connectivity challenges that leave millions of low-income and rural students disproportionately impacted compared to their peers. Today, most of our lives and opportunities are driven by the ability to access the Internet, such as earning a higher education credential, owning a small business that requires accessing world markets, or providing healthcare through telemedicine.
At WGU Texas, a nonprofit, accredited online university, our mission is to expand access and success to high-quality postsecondary educational opportunities for all Texans, so we’re granting internet access and providing devices to students who need and can’t afford them through our Online Access Scholarship Program. However, our ability to be truly impactful remains limited until broadband internet is treated as a public utility and expanded to all corners of the state.
Linda Battles is acting regional vice president of WGU Texas and former deputy commissioner at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.