With online distance learning, at least three types of equity considerations arise:
- Family income – Often students from low-income families do not have a computer at home and have few opportunities to develop computer and Internet search skills. These students may be at a disadvantage because success in online distance learning depends partially on computer and Internet search skills. Students who do not have a computer at home may need extra training, so that all students benefit equally.
- Students with varying levels of academic ability – Some students may need more time and more practice to learn online skills. Similarly, students with low reading levels may find online learning difficult. It may be appropriate to provide these students with extra instruction on computer skills and with reading development programs. In today’s world, all young people, of all ability levels, need online skills. Online learning should not be limited to average or gifted students.
- Equity between the genders – Some researchers suggest that boys receive greater encouragement to use computers in the classroom than do girls and that boys get more opportunities to work at the keyboard. The stereotype of a boy working at the keyboard with a girl observing over his shoulder is common.
School-level responses to this concern may mean ensuring that girls and boys get equal time at the keyboard, as well as equal amounts of computer-related instruction and encouragement.