“The internet is not as accessible as we think”
Dr. Suzanne Smythe, points out that the pandemic has amplified digital inequalities that hamper equitable access to information on the internet.
Issues such as the lack of Broadband internet access as well as low connection speeds in remote and rural areas already hinder digital inclusion. The high cost of broadband is another barrier; the struggle to afford an internet connection at home prevents many from accessing important information in public health orders (PHO) to protect themselves, their families, and communities.
Through her work with community-based adult literacy organizations and communities, Dr. Smythe, along with her co-authors and community partners, found that closing community centres and libraries due to PHO disproportionately impacts already disadvantaged communities. Not only are they cut off from technology, but they’re also cut off from services. Community workers and librarians frequently provide information alongside literacy and learning supports.
However, Dr. Smythe and her co-authors found that these same community organizations have pivoted their practices.
“…educators developed a range of inventive and dynamic pedagogies oriented to social solidarity and to taking up intersectional oppressions. These ‘pandemic pedagogies’ may contribute to more equitable and inclusive social–technology relationships in a post-pandemic future.”
Smythe, S., Wilbur, A. & Hunter, E. 2021. Inventive pedagogies and social solidarity: The work of community-based adult educators during COVID-19 in British Columbia, Canada, International Review of Education, 1-21 [online first]. DOI 10.1007/s11159-021-09882-1