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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.


Canada, H. (2020, September 16). Drugs and vaccines for COVID-19: Authorized clinical trials [Decisions]. Aem. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/list-authorized-trials.html
Cartwright, F., & Allen, M. K. (2002). Understanding the rural-urban reading gap. Statistics Canada : Human Resources Development Canada : Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.
Jeyanathan, M., Afkhami, S., Smaill, F., Miller, M. S., Lichty, B. D., & Xing, Z. (2020). Immunological considerations for COVID-19 vaccine strategies. Nature Reviews Immunology, 20(10), 615–632. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41577-020-00434-6
Koch, K. (2020). Infrastructure policy trends: The Digital Divide and the lack of broadband access during COVID-19. The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary. https://www.policyschool.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Infrastructure-Trends-Digital-Divide.pdf
Weeden, s. A., & Kelly, W. (2020). Addressing the Digital Divide: COVID-19 and the Importance of Connecting Rural Canada.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you, Jean-Pierre. This is a very promising start! I look forward to reading this assessment of widening gaps!

  2. I like the questions you raise on whether the impact of the pandemic will be temporary or permanent. I wonder too, now that more people are aware of the options available if there will be more balanced participation in the various public-school programs. I can tell you from my experience working in a DL school that the pandemic has drastically increased our enrolment, but it has also changed the make-up of our student population. The newly enrolled students to DL will be more motivated to successfully complete the course compared to DL being the last resort for many in previous years. I also find it interesting that you consider the access in rural versus urban settings. From what I’ve seen of real estate reports that there is an exodus from urban areas. After all, if we’re stuck at home it might as well be one with a big yard. I’m looking forward to reading your essay.

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