Digital Equity

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Digital equity is fair and just access to the information technology capacity needed for full participation in society, democracy, and the economy. RAND research has explored the digital divide that separates low-income students and their more-advantaged peers—a disparity made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other RAND research examines access to telemedicine; being able to work remotely; the global digital skills gap; refugees' technology needs; and limited internet access in autocracies and developing countries.

  • A refugee mother looks at her smartphone after arriving by rubber raft from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos near the port city of Mytilene, Greece, March 9, 2016, photo by Kay Nietfeld/Picture Alliance/dpa/AP Images

    Report

    How Technology Could Better Serve Refugees and Those Who Help Them

    Millions of refugees and the agencies that assist them have turned to technology as a vital resource, but gaps remain. How can tech be developed and used more strategically in humanitarian settings?

    Dec 17, 2019

  • Boston Public School teacher Princess Bryant teaches her kindergarten class via video-conference from her apartment after schools were closed for the remainder of the school year because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 28, 2020, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Report

    The Digital Divide and COVID-19

    Findings from a survey of U.S. teachers reveal how limited home internet access has been a barrier to providing instruction amid pandemic-related school closures. The problem is particularly acute among high-poverty schools.

    Sep 24, 2020

Explore Digital Equity

  • A woman talking to a doctor online, photo by SDI Productions/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Telemedicine Abortion? It's Not as Easy as It Sounds

    The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has providers and health advocates strategizing about how to provide more abortions where it is still legal. Expanding virtual medical visits is one popular idea. Policymakers and clinics could take steps to make telemedicine better understood, easier to use, and more equitable.

    Aug 19, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Ongoing Disparities in Digital and In-Person Access to Child Psychiatric Services in the United States

    Although telehealth holds promise for promoting access to child and adolescent psychiatric services, large disparities in overall access to services persists in rural and low-income communities.

    Mar 24, 2022

  • Group of college students with tutor studying computer design sitting at monitors in classroom, photo by Monkey Business Images/Adobe Stock

    Multimedia

    The Global Digital Skills Gap

    Increasing digitalisation has changed the nature of work, making digital skills an essential attribute for the modern workforce. However, the demand for digital skills is outpacing the supply, creating a global digital skills 'gap'. RAND Europe researchers Salil Gunashekar and Carolina Feijao discuss what is driving the digital skills gap and how organisations could address the issue.

    Jan 14, 2022

  • Mature students learning computer skills, photo by Monkey Business Images/Adobe Stock

    Report

    The global digital skills gap: Current trends and future directions

    The overarching aim of the research was to better understand at a macro level whether and why the digital skills gap is widening, its implications for digital and social inequalities, and what various stakeholders are doing in response.

    Dec 15, 2021

  • Two people embrace while sitting on a rocky shoreline and looking across the horizon, Antelias, Lebanon, May 2009, photo by Wael Morcos

    Project

    Crossing the Digital Divide: How Refugees Use Mobile Technology

    Morcos Key's second visualization for RAND Art + Data explores how millions of refugees around the world rely on technology—particularly mobile phones—for survival, to connect to the past, and for a chance at a better future.

    Oct 13, 2021

  • Technology recruiter Penny Bailey works from home in San Francisco, California, January 6, 2021, photo by Jane Tyska/TNS/ABACA via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Inequality in Opportunity to Work from Home an Underlying Condition Likely Aggravated by the Pandemic

    Building a safe, healthy workforce where success, productivity, and financial security are available to all segments of American society could provide resilience against inevitable future shockwaves. Since working from home is a key part of such resilience, policymakers could focus on supporting the advantages, remediating the downsides, and expanding access to this form of work.

    May 14, 2021

  • Older couple using a mobile phone for a telemedicine appointment, photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

    Commentary

    No Patient Left Behind: Considering Equitable Distribution of Telehealth

    The pandemic has revealed telemedicine's potential to improve health care delivery and access. Telemedicine could help reach patients who would normally be excluded or alienated by the traditional structure of the health system.

    Apr 20, 2021

  • SpaceX Starlink mission, photo by SpaceX/ CC BY 2.0

    Commentary

    Satellite Internet Services—Fostering the Dictator's Dilemma?

    The ability to provide relatively low cost internet access outside of government control is both a challenge for authoritarian states and an opportunity for democracies. What are low-altitude, low-latency satellites and why are authoritarian states so concerned?

    Apr 12, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Inequality in Household Adaptation to Schooling Shocks: Covid-induced Online Learning Engagement in Real Time

    Using internet searches, we study real-time demand for online learning resources. Internet searches for online learning resources doubled during the pandemic. Increases were larger in are as with higher income and better internet access. The pandemic will likely widen achievement gaps along these dimensions.

    Feb 3, 2021

  • COVID-19 and the Digital Divide

    Multimedia

    COVID-19 and the Digital Divide: Inequities in Online Learning

    RAND senior policy researcher Julia Kaufman explains how the digital divide impacted teaching and learning when schools closed last spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Oct 16, 2020

  • A teacher showing a globe to her online elementary students, photo by ake1150sb/Getty Images

    Report

    Schools Weren't Prepared for a Crisis Like COVID-19

    Before COVID-19, less than half of U.S. public schools had a written plan for dealing with a pandemic. And only 38 states had publicly available school health emergency plans. How did schools' preparation affect their transitions to remote learning and principals' confidence in student achievement?

    Sep 29, 2020

  • Chrissy Brackett and grandson Caidence Miller learn to navigate an online learning system at her home in Woodinville, Washington, March 11, 2020, photo by Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

    Q&A

    Schools Pivot Online in Wake of COVID-19: Q&A with RAND Experts

    Nearly all school-age children in the United States are no longer in the classroom as districts shut down to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus. RAND education researchers discuss how this situation might exacerbate educational inequities, how districts and teachers are innovating and what they need, and what parents can do.

    Apr 2, 2020

  • Young boy with tablet

    Report

    Identifying an Adequate Technology Infrastructure for Early Childhood Education

    Infrastructure (devices, software, and connectivity) should support technology's potential to improve learning and build digital literacy among young kids. But many factors make “adequate infrastructure” a moving target, such as the myriad of choices on the market.

    Oct 20, 2014

  • Three preschoolers looking at a laptop with their teacher

    Report

    Identifying Goals for Technology Use in Early Childhood Education

    Technology use among young children is increasingly a fact of life. Establishing a clear set of goals that are broadly accepted by stakeholders is critical to planning for the successful integration of technology into early childhood education.

    Sep 22, 2014

  • preschool teacher with students around a laptop

    Report

    Early Education Plays Role in Bridging the 'Digital Divide'

    Digital literacy plays an important role in a child's ability to succeed in school and later life. Incorporating technology into early childhood education help close the “digital divide” that separates low-income students and their more-advantaged peers.

    Mar 3, 2014

  • kindergarten girls using computer

    Project

    “T” Is for Technology: Early Childhood Education and the Digital Divide

    Despite the central and growing role of digital technology for knowledge-based work, children in low-income families have relatively limited access to computer-based devices, software applications, and the Internet. “T” Is for Technology explored the potential for early childhood education to help narrow this digital divide.

    Mar 3, 2014

  • News Release

    News Release

    Early Education Plays Role in Bridging the 'Digital Divide'

    Technology literacy plays an important role in a child's ability to succeed in school and later life. Incorporating technology into early childhood education help close the “digital divide” that separates low-income students and their more-advantaged peers.

    Mar 3, 2014

  • Dissertation

    Dissertation

    Family Factors and Student Outcomes

    Examines the effects of family process variables (specific things families do) and family status variables (who families are) on the academic achievement and nonacademic outcomes of students, both in the United States and internationally.

    Jan 19, 2010