Why World Wi-Fi Day is Bridging the Digital Divide in Education


Many of us take it for granted that we have access to the Internet. But according to a 2020 survey by Common Sense and Boston Consulting Group, over 30% of all US K-12 public households lack either an Internet connection or an adequate learning device.

On this World Wi-Fi Day (June 20), we at Extreme Networks seek to uncover how we can “Bridge the Digital Divide” in accordance with the 2022 global theme. World Wi-Fi Day celebrates how Wi-Fi helps cities and communities around the world. With a distinguishing difference between those who have access to digital technology and those who don’t, governments and enterprises have begun to explore how we should change things. So, if a community has connectivity issues, how significant is the digital divide? How can Wi-Fi bridge the gap?

When a school district has achievement gaps, limited funds and outdated equipment, it is hard to keep learning and stay competitive with nearby districts without the same challenges. In fact, it’s safe to say that in today’s education programs Wi-Fi can be considered "essential".

Along with computer and Internet access, today’s essential tools for learning include cloud-based apps that help students stay engaged. For instance, the ability to communicate with one another about projects and to solve problems with assistance.

In a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, it was determined that students need to have access to equal educational opportunities – and after COVID-19 that now includes digital tools and services.

However, in remote locations connections can be insufficient for students to stream classes and complete online homework, especially when numerous people in the same household are trying to connect at the same time.

Some schools can afford to get their students Chromebooks and tablets, but that does not always solve the issue of getting connected to the Internet. As a result, students who are struggling to keep up with their well-equipped peers find themselves falling farther behind.

Thanks to efforts from Bruce Gillham, Superintendent of Shady Point School in Shady Point, OK, some schools have sought innovative solutions to bridge the divide by bringing the Internet to the students. “If students cannot come to the school for free Wi-Fi, then the school must send Wi-Fi to the students,” says Bruce.

Realizing that getting a community connected to reliable Wi-Fi and keeping that connection up-to-date can be a challenge. But once those communities have strong, robust Wi-Fi networks, it can be a game-changer in education. Schools can now power the community not only fill achievement gaps but also to engage in immersive environments like virtual reality and augmented reality. This then opens the door for tools like the Internet of Things (IoT). Bridging the Digital Divide is not just beneficial to the community, but it also has an economic impact.

Wi-Fi truly does play an important role in cities and communities around the world by reducing digital poverty and connecting the unconnected. On a day like World Wi-Fi Day, we take the time to celebrate how truly transformative Wi-Fi is.

How are you celebrating World Wi-Fi Day in your community? Share your stories with the hashtag #WorldWiFiDay and tag @ExtremeNetworks.

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Extreme Networks
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