Iowa Online AP Academy: Taking Small Steps to Bridge the Digital Divide

The Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy allows Iowa students to take APTM classes online. IOAPA is especially meant for rural schools that do not have the resources to support APTM classes. Educators can learn more here.

There are sizable gaps between those in the United States who have easy access to the Internet and those who do not, as recently displayed in this infographic created by and then shared by Mashable. Class, race, and geographic location all factor into accessibility of the invaluable resources that can be found online.

As our interests lie in helping rural students gain access to challenging academic opportunities, we at the Iowa Online AP Academy and the Belin-Blank Center more generally are concerned with this discrepancy in access for many Iowa students. Accordingly, we have teamed with one local high school to pilot a project that places access to cutting-edge iPad technology in the hands of students already enrolled in online AP courses. iPads were selected for this program as they were evaluated to leave the smallest technology burden on the shoulders of school staff.

Each student in this semester-long pilot will receive an iPad on which e-textbooks and course-relevant programming will already be downloaded. These iPads will be for their use at school and at home, allowing students who do not have access to technology at home the option of finishing online coursework outside of the classroom. Notably, a portion of these students will also participate in an online community in which they will connect with other Iowa students to attack course content together and even meet one another at the University of Iowa for interactive class projects. Through this pilot, we hope to explore the potential of providing high-tech devices to students with supports in place to increase access to emerging technologies and to build student communities across the state.

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