A speculation on the effects of the Digital Divide on education in 2030
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on society 2020, in particular the forced and rushed adoption of learning technology in many K-12 schools, has spurred a good deal of discussion regarding the role of online and blended learning. In envisioning what technology use in education might look like 2030, it is important to consider whether this pandemic might have changed the landscape permanently or temporarily in this regard. Though there are currently 63 potential vaccines authorized for trials by the Canadian government (Canada, 2020), it is believed that this will continue to impact society until a safe vaccine is found, a process that is believed to evolve over the next several years (Jeyanathan et al., 2020). In this regard, it is safe to assume that the implementation of online and blended learning in K-12 is a less-than temporary phenomenon and that the tools and solutions, or similar solutions, that are implemented now will continue to evolve and have an impact on today’s K-12 schools until 2030. Given the already present gaps between urban and rural schools, particularly regarding access to computers and high-speed internet services (Cartwright & Allen, 2002), this is already having an impact on rural students and communities, making the digital divide worse (Weeden & Kelly, 2020). Given that adequate infrastructure is only expected to be in place by 2030, this situation is not expected to improve for rural Canadians during this decade (Koch, 2020). These rural students will potentially only be on-par with today’s urban students a decade from now, after vaccines are in place, leaving them even less prepared for life in a society that appears to be headed in an increasingly digital direction.