Bridging the Digital Divide: The Role of Online Education in Promoting Equity

Denise E Greaves


This qualitative case study examines the impact of online education in Smith County (a pseudonym), a rural area in the southwestern United States characterized by economic challenges and a large Hispanic population. This study aimed to identify the barriers to and facilitators of educational equity in digital environments. A purposive sampling was utilized to select participants who could provide rich, in-depth insights into the impact of online education within Smith County. In-depth interviews were conducted and focus groups held with students, teachers, and administrators within Smith County. Data analysis was conducted through an iterative process of coding and thematic analysis. The study was informed by the theoretical framework of digital divide and culturally responsive pedagogy. This study delved into the nuanced challenges faced by this community, including technological access, digital literacy, and socio-economic factors. The analysis also explored the pedagogical approaches and support systems that contribute to effective online learning experiences within this rural area. The findings revealed a complex interplay of factors affecting online education engagement and success, highlighting the critical role of tailored support services, culturally responsive teaching, and community partnerships to enhance educational outcomes. The study underscores the importance of understanding local contexts and learner needs in designing and implementing online education programs that specifically address equity. Major conclusions point toward the need for comprehensive strategies that go beyond providing internet access, emphasizing the creation of inclusive, supportive online learning communities. This research contributes to the discourse on educational equity in the digital age, offering insights for educators, policymakers, and online education providers seeking to improve access and outcomes for all learners.

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International Journal of Contemporary Education

ISSN 2575-3177 (Print)   ISSN 2575-3185 (Online)

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