Rural Students Need Sustainable Broadband Access to Complete Schoolwork

As the school year gets up and running, students across the U.S. are getting back into the swing of doing one of their least favorite things: homework. With the ever-growing amount of technology and resources being infused into classrooms around the country, teachers are able to enhance their students’ educational experiences. Nearly 70% of teachers assign homework that needs to be completed online, and 90% of high school students say they have to complete internet or digital-based homework at least a few times a month. The need for reliable internet is paramount for students now more than ever. 

However, there is a large percentage of the student population that lacks the appropriate internet access at home to keep up with the evolution of technology in education. According to the Pew Research Center, five million households that have school-aged children in the U.S. lack a sustainable broadband connection. This leaves many students, especially those in rural areas where lack of broadband access is common, without an opportunity to do their homework at home. This lack of internet access is a branch of the digital divide called the “Homework Gap.”

Negative effects facing students without sustainable broadband

As mentioned, some of those five million households are in rural communities. As we saw in our previous blog post on the impact broadband can have for banks in rural communities, nearly 31% of residents in rural communities lack sustainable broadband compared to just 4% of those in urban communities. This can cause students whose homes are a part of this 31% to fall behind their peers who have internet access at home. 

The biggest problem these students face is the inability to complete their online homework assignments, research papers or projects, and perform other online activities on time. They could travel to places that offer free WiFi such as coffee shops, but depending on the community, even those types of establishments might lack sustainable broadband. Other locations like local libraries that might provide internet may not have hours that are compatible with students’ schedules when you factor in athletic or school club commitments, part-time after-school employment, or family responsibilities. 

Not only does this affect students’ grades in school, but it could also impact their ability to apply to colleges and universities. Most colleges accept applications online, meaning that lack of a sustainable internet connection could make applying to college or receiving financial aid one step harder for those in rural communities. 

The impact of broadband on students – and all citizens – in rural communities

If rural communities gain sustainable broadband, we should see fixes to the problems mentioned above. Other benefits to students include an increase in overall student GPAs and test scores, as well as students’ individual successes also creating new levels of confidence, preparation, and opportunities for their futures. What’s more, this can also lead to better placement and success rates for the school systems. Some schools depend on these positive ratings for state-provided funding. The more funding in the schools, the more impactful the resources teachers can provide to help their students in the classroom.

But what about the greater community as a whole? As covered previously on our blog, manufacturing and industrial workplaces can benefit from rural broadband access by partnering with local schools to gain the tools needed in order to train and develop an incoming workforce. More people in the workforce means more jobs, which means more positive impacts on the economy, which helps the greater community. These are just some of the ways sustainable broadband can positively impact students and adults who live in rural communities. 

Intelligent Fiber Network is committed to connecting all types of communities across Indiana to sustainable, high-speed broadband connections to help businesses succeed in their markets. With our highly customizable offerings, IFN is ready to help you discover the best fiber solution for your organization or community. Give us a call today at (317) 280-4636 to get started.