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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Will Online Education Widen Asia's Digital Divide?


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student at laptop computer

Credit: Getty Images

Chinese and Hong Kong universities have been lauded for shifting quickly to e-learning while classes remain suspended during the coronavirus pandemic — some elite institutions even boasted of getting tens of thousands of staff and students online in a matter of weeks. 

However, there are growing concerns that students from less-privileged backgrounds, or less-well-funded institutions, could be left behind. The financial and digital divide in Asia has become even more apparent now that students are physically removed from campuses and thus from resources such as libraries, computer labs, and common spaces.

"Online class quality depends very much on the environment and equipment available to the students," says Kai-Lung Hui, associate dean (research) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School. "It's more than just the computer and network per se. The home environment also matters. This tends to put poorer students at a disadvantage."

From Times Higher Education
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