Foundations of Digital Equity: Understanding the "Homework Gap"

School district leader demonstrates an understanding of the importance of ensuring equitable access to digital technologies in an out-of-school context (the "homework gap").
Made by Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The school district leader promotes awareness of the “homework gap” among district staff or the general public through a chosen medium.

Method Components

Foundations of Digital Equity: Understanding the Homework Gap is the first micro-credential in the Digital Equity stack. Successful completion of this micro-credential is a prerequisite for earning the remaining micro-credentials in the Digital Equity stack.

  1. Foundations of Digital Equity: Understanding the Homework Gap
  2. Identifying Challenges in Ensuring Digital Equity
  3. Engaging Stakeholders to Address Gaps in Digital Equity
  4. Creating a District Plan for Digital Equity
  5. Implementing a District Plan for Digital Equity

What is the “homework gap”?

As the spread of broadband access has expanded and schools have integrated technology further into their instruction, students have been increasingly required to access the Internet during out-of-school hours in order to complete required assignments and activities. While this blended instructional approach has benefited many students by taking advantage of the affordances of both face-to-face and online instruction, it has left some students increasingly vulnerable to falling further behind their peers. These students—students who are unable to access the Internet reliably from home—are victims of what has been described as the “homework gap.”

Key facts about the “homework gap”

  • Approximately 17.5 percent of homes with school-aged children, or roughly five million, do not have broadband access (Pew Research, 2015)
  • Black, Hispanic, and rural households make up a disproportionately high percentage of these families (Pew Research, 2015; Mardis, 2016)
  • Many of these families lack this access because they can’t afford it (THE Journal, 2016) or they don’t see a need for it (Mardis, 2016)
  • Approximately 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires broadband access (Rosenworcel, 2015)
  • Approximately half of Hispanic students say they have been unable to complete a homework assignment because they didn’t have access to the Internet or a computer. Forty-two percent attributed a lower grade to a lack of broadband access. (Rosenworcel, 2015)
  • COSN’s 2014 Infrastructure survey showed that 75 percent of school district technology leaders “have no strategies to address off-campus access” (COSN, 2014)

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Mardis, M. (2016). Beyond the Glow: Children’s Broadband Access, Digital Learning Initiatives, and Academic Achievement in Rural Florida. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 25(1), 53-74. Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).


  • How Digital Equity Can Help Close the Homework Gap, Marie Bjerede and Keith R. Krueger

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a “Yes” for Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Why is it important for your school district to have an awareness and understanding of the “homework gap”?
  • Describe three or more meaningful ways in which the “homework gap” has negatively impacted students in your district.

Part 2. Evidence/Artifacts

To earn this micro-credential, provide one or more artifacts that your school district has used to either 1) promote awareness of the “homework gap” among district staff or the general public (e.g., a link to a page on a school website, a PDF of a flyer) or 2) articulate a policy that attempts to address the “homework gap” (e.g., a document that outlines a specific district policy).

The artifact(s) should be accompanied by background information that provides appropriate context for the artifact (e.g., location of the district, student demographics, etc.) along with a brief explanation the artifact’s purpose.

Part 3. Reflection

Consider the artifact(s) that you submitted in Part 2. What meaningful modifications might you make in order to make it more relevant? Feel free to submit this reflection in whatever format is most effective for you (e.g., text, audio, video, etc.).

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

Ready to get started?