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eLearning’s Role In Education Equality: A Case For Urban Development

All too often, children in urban areas are underserved in their access to community infrastructure. While there are countless examples of this, the one that often has the biggest impact on individual outcomes is education. Urban schools struggle with too little money, too many students, and an almost endless barrage of environmental barriers to learning that educators need to navigate. Integrating eLearning materials into school curriculums can be a powerful urban development tool. In this article, we explore what that means and how it might work.

What Is Urban Development?

Urban development refers to the process of designing and changing an urban landscape to improve the social and economic opportunities in the area. It is a complex and fluid process that changes constantly in response to environmental factors and evolving social demands. A project that provides a communal garden space could be a very simple form of urban development. An affordable housing complex would be an example of a more complex project. Generally, urban development projects touch on some or all of the following considerations:

  • Infrastructure
    The creation and maintenance of essential facilities such as roads, bridges, water supply, sewage systems, and utilities to support the urban population.
  • Housing
    Planning and constructing residential areas that are safe, affordable, and sustainable, addressing the housing needs of the growing urban population.
  • Transportation
    Developing efficient and accessible transportation systems, including roads, public transit, and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.
  • Public spaces
    Creating parks, recreational areas, and communal spaces that contribute to the well-being and social cohesion of the community.
  • Social services
    Providing essential services like healthcare, education, and public safety to meet the needs of the urban population.
  • Economic development
    Fostering an environment that supports businesses, job creation, and economic opportunities, contributing to the prosperity of the urban area.

It is important to keep in mind that, while each of the abovementioned considerations appears independent, they interact endlessly within an urban landscape, influencing and changing one another continuously over time. Successful urban development projects recognize and respond to the challenge of balancing a community’s complex and always-changing needs.

How eLearning Factors Into The Urban Development Process

On the surface, it may seem that eLearning has little to do with urban development. However, when you consider how deeply education impacts future prospects, the connection becomes clearer. All too often, children living in urban areas are held back by limited educational opportunities. Schools are often underfunded, overcrowded, and heavily impaired by the complicated needs that their student body might be facing.

It’s a paradox. Urban schools struggle because their students have high needs. Urban students often have high needs in part because their schools are struggling. eLearning resources can help level the playing field, connecting students with learning materials and educational opportunities that otherwise would not have been available to them. In the next few sections, we will look at examples of how this can work.

1. Customized Learning

One of the nice things about eLearning materials is that they tend to be adaptable. Many online platforms will change their prompts in direct response to how the child is answering questions. This is great in that it allows children to make progress without growing overly frustrated, and it allows them to learn in a way that is most compatible with their style.

Teachers do try to adapt their lessons in a way that will engage the largest possible number of people. However, there are only so many accommodations a teacher with thirty students in their room can make by hand. eLearning resources automate these adjustments, ensuring that everyone has the chance to learn in a way that is comfortable for them.

2. Data Collection Made Easy

eLearning resources also make it really easy for educators to take data. This is particularly important in underperforming districts where data can be leveraged to produce outcome-changing insights. For example, if an educator finds that reading scores are low across the boards, they might look for ways to implement earlier interventions within the school curriculum. Teachers generally have an idea of where their students are struggling the most, but breaking that understanding down into objective data makes it much more actionable from an administrative leadership perspective.

3. Higher Engagement

For better or for worse, students also tend to find eLearning resources more engaging. Some educators do worry about the long-term impacts of this. It’s great when schoolwork feels like a game, but the real world won’t work like that. Isn’t it better for kids to get a more realistic look at what it feels like to put in a day’s work? While this criticism has the ring of truth to it, most teachers are simply glad to have resources that their children respond well to.

Challenges In Implementing eLearning

While eLearning resources may seem like an excellent opportunity for children in urban schools, there are limitations that deserve consideration. One of them? A concept experts refer to as “the digital divide.” This concept references the disparity between people who have access to digital technology at home and those who do not.

Naturally, it’s often people in low-income areas who do not have the hardware or even the WiFi connections needed to engage with remote materials at home. While some schools are able to enhance accessibility through wireless hotspots and take-home equipment, these programs are far from ubiquitous.

Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this issue. eLearning materials are an excellent opportunity for those in a position to benefit from them. However, the scope of their impact will not be fully felt until the digital divide disappears.

Conclusion

None of this is to say that a decent online learning platform is all it will take to improve the public school system. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many factors that contribute to educational outcomes. Of these, school resources aren’t even necessarily the most important. However, eLearning does have the potential to make lesson plans more engaging and impactful to a wider number of people. With time and proper implementation, it could have a big impact on the future of education.

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