covid-19; inequality; online education; first-level digital divide; second-level digital divide


The outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in unprecedented school closures in education, leading online education to become “the new normal.” Concurrently, emergency online instruction further exacerbated what is known as the digital divide, one of the contributing factors to inequality of educational opportunities. The purpose of our research is to examine in what ways the digital divide influences teachers and students during COVID-19. A better understanding of teachers' perceptions of teaching online and the digital divide can offer more information for effective teaching during the pandemic. In this multi-method study, researchers collected data from 36 teachers through Likert scale questions and open-ended survey questions. The findings indicated that first- and second-level digital divides are the main problems affecting online education during the COVID-19 outbreak. Some students might not benefit from online learning due to the digital divide. Lack of access to technology and the internet, first-level digital divide, affected primarily students from lower SES. Further, even though some students had access to technology and the internet, students' and teachers' information and communication technology (ICT) skills, second-level digital divide, impacted how they use technology and profit from online education. Teachers need support to improve their own ICT skills, as well as their students, to reduce the impact of the digital divide in education.

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