How can students learn at home if they have multiple homes or no home at all?

One group succeeds with holistic approach; demand still exceeds supply

Sylvia Rucker has been a caretaker most of her life. As the head cook at Hannah Gibbons Elementary School in Collinwood, she prepares meals for approximately 250 students daily, and has four adult children of her own. But when her oldest daughter died unexpectedly in the summer of 2019, Rucker was suddenly thrust into the role of parent once again. “My daughter went into the hospital with a toothache. She passed away a week later, and left behind three kids,” says Rucker.

What is disconnection? What is digital inequity?

Ohio's digital divide hurts those who can't afford high-speed internet

Computer trainer and former library aide Shenee King has a bird’s eye view when it comes to digital inequity. 

She’s seen students fail assignments because they lack a home computer — and the assignment is in Google classroom. She’s seen middle schoolers fail standardized essay tests because they weren’t taught keyboarding — so they write the test longhand and struggle to type it before their time is up. 

The youngsters are victims of a problem that affects residents throughout Ohio, but the issue is particularly acute in Cleveland.  Digital exclusion consists of a combination of deficiencies: lack of access to affordable networks and hardware; lack of literacy or skills to navigate, consume, and produce content in the digital sphere; and finally lack of access to troubleshooting support when broadband or devices break. The reality of digital exclusion means many, are isolated at a time when the Internet enables daily life. From GPS-enabled cars, to Bluetooth kitchen appliances to virtual medical consultations, digital access determines tasks from the mundane to the crucial. 

The Fairfax Neighborhood where Digital C has aimed their project. (Photo Credit: Eye on Ohio)

“Everything is going digital now, as far as resources for help,” said King, who works with the Cleveland Housing Network.