Since about 2010, one-to-one computing and cloud-based computing have come to dominate school computing. In many schools, students carry Chromebook with them, and sometimes they take them home. (While the market share of educational computing devices is difficult to ascertain, estimates are that Chromebooks represent over 60% of the devices purchased for school users.) Some schools do continue to maintain computer rooms for special functions, and computers with full operating systems for administrative staff, but in many schools, Chromebooks are the only devices maintained by IT professionals. Google Workspaces provide most students with productivity applications, and student information systems (including grade books), library card catalogs, and learning management systems are web-based, so students access them from home and school. Because those systems are based in the cloud, robust, reliable, and secure networks are essential to school functions.
While the move to cloud-based computing has many benefits for students, teachers, and IT professionals, it has introduced inequity into education. The “digital divide” has been used to describe the inequitable access to digital learning for generations. Originally, it was used to describe the fact that marginalized populations attended schools with fewer computing devices. It has also been used to describe inequitable access to high-quality instruction with digital tools. As cloud-computing became ubiquitous it described inequitable access to network connections to use those resources.