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Educational Equity in the Digital Age

Banner Digital equity

Digital Inclusion

Digital Inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This includes 5 elements:

  • affordable, robust broadband internet service;
  •  internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user;
  • access to digital literacy training;
  • quality technical support; and
  • applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration.

Digital Inclusion must evolve as technology advances. Digital Inclusion requires intentional strategies and investments to reduce and eliminate historical, institutional, and structural barriers to access and use technology. 

Digital Equity and Factors

WDLPDigital Equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital Equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services. Expanding the work of CoSN with additional research on the educational gaps that can be created by lack of access to the what student needs, digital equity includes the four pillars to ensure students can participate in a wide spectrum of digital learning activities: internet at home for designated school use not leveraged by more than two students, access to the internet at the time they need it, digital literacy skills for student and adults, as well as digital resources/content/instructional tools to complete learning activities.

Digital Literacy

NDIA recommends the American Library Association’s definition of Digital Literacy via their Digital Literacy Taskforce:

  • Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.
  • A Digitally Literate Person:
    • Possesses a variety of skills – technical and cognitive – required to find, understand, evaluate, create, and communicate digital information in a wide variety of formats;
    • Is able to use diverse technologies appropriately and effectively to retrieve information, interpret results, and judge the quality of that information;
    • Understands the relationship between technology, life-long learning, personal privacy, and stewardship of information;
    • Uses these skills and the appropriate technology to communicate and collaborate with peers, colleagues, family, and on occasion, the general public; and
    • Uses these skills to actively participate in civic society and contribute to a vibrant, informed, and engaged community

Resources for District and School Instructional Leadership Teams

ACT.  Rural Students: Technology, Coursework, and Extracurricular Activities.

Becker, Jonathon. Digital Equity in education: A Multilevel Examination of differences in and relationships between computer access, computer use, and state-level technology policies.

COSN, Digital Equity Toolkit.

EdTech Magazine.  What is Digital Equity and How can we Improve It?  (video interview with Beth Holland, COSN)  What Four Divides Teach About Digital Equity, an Analysis.  

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Equity.


Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  Wisconsin Standards for Information Literacy and Technology.

National Education Center on Statistics, Student Access to Digital Resources Outside of the Classroom.

Wisconsin Digital Learning Collaborative. Digital courses, content, and professional learning for online/blended learning options in Wisconsin.