Schools spending more money on Internet access can improve students’ success ─Study

*Researchers found that graduation rates and in-class performance improved with greater Internet access for educational institutions and their students

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has drawn more attention to disparities in Internet access in homes, schools, businesses, government institutions, and others across the world.

Now, researchers from Rice University have analysed the benefits of schools investing more money in providing Internet access to their students.

Based on a recent survey of Texas public schools in the United States, the team found that expanding internet access was associated with improved classroom performance.

Vikas Mittal, one of the study’s authors, said: “We are proud that Texas public schools can serve as a live learning case for understanding education policy.

“Investments in internet access provide clear and meaningful academic benefits. Yet, schools need to implement policies to address increased disciplinary issues, such as cyberbullying.”

In establishing how kids are doing better in school in the study, the researchers looked at data from more than 9,000 public schools throughout Texas.

The team was interested in looking at how each school’s spending on internet access affected their students’ learning and behavioural outcomes between 2000 and 2014.

From an academic standpoint, increasing Internet access among student populations was a positive investment.

Greater Internet access was associated with higher SAT scores, better in-class performance, and higher graduation rates.

The researchers also found that having greater internet access benefited students beyond their schooling years.

They found that making the investment to provide more students with internet access led to a greater economic return long-term.

In respect of social repercussions more Internet access despite that the academic outcomes were beneficial, the researchers also found that when more students had Internet access, it negatively impacted their social dynamics.

The study indicated that disciplinary problems, including cyberbullying, increased as more students gained access to the Internet.

It is, however, noted though these findings are important, this study was conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the researchers don’t believe these results will translate to virtual learning scenarios.

Mittal said: “K-12 education has transformed into virtual learning due to COVID-19. “Our research conclusions apply to a setting where physical learning is supplemented by Internet access.”

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