Bridging the Digital Divide

Bridging the Digital Divide for Teaching and Learning at
UNC Charlotte

Hands Across the Divide

Hands Across the Divide

Message from the Provost – Dr. Joan Lorden (Monday, March 23, 2020 – UNC Charlotte)

“Digital Divide is real and exists for many of our financially stressed students. Many of our students may not have the technology to learn effectively online, and we cannot expect them to bridge this gap by themselves. Just as we are scrambling to figure out the best tools, so are they; and we have the resources of the university at our disposal, they may not. For example, we have learned that Chromebooks, which many students use, are not compatible with WebEx or Respondus.” Continued message: Bridging the Digital Divide for Our Students

As we meet with our students where they are, let us remember that the sudden move to fully online classes has caught them (and us) unaware and unprepared without the proper hardware, software, and adequate internet access. We encourage you to consider ways of providing alternate resources and activities using asynchronous methods of class delivery. This article explaining the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication and delivery is worthwhile reading.

Students will have internet access ranging from satellite internet to high-speed broadband internet that brings differing support in uploading and streaming video for their courses. Conversely, as the country is literally all online, our students will be struggling with competing populations that are all doing the same thing; attempting to continue their education in spite of the challenges.

It is worthwhile considering the following suggestions:

Broadband Access

  • Here is NC-specific ISP coverage and ISP offers for COVID-19 : COVID-19 Internet Service Offerings
  • Students can check their broadband coverage map (i.e. what serves are available in their area) and see if alternative access is available. For example, Comcast free access uses Hotspot which doesn’t require installation and provides 15Mb. (if the signal reaches)
  • Using Eduroam access would be another option
  • Lastly, a low bandwidth option is also an alternative
  • Unless high-resolution graphics are required, high-resolution full motion video is not needed. Instead, high compression MP4 or even separate MP3 audio and PPT would still work.
  • Other suggestions in support of low bandwidth teaching alternatives
  • Remind: To send out text messages to the students as a way to communicate

Alternate Teaching Instructions


For faculty and students that have challenges with reliable or high-bandwidth internet access, how can they provide presence and maintain connections with each other (They will face difficulty with using tools that require high bandwidth – Webex video conferencing or upload large PDF and video files to Canvas)?


The below suggestions assume students have a reliable smartphone and mobile network access.

  • For peer mentoring, look at lower bandwidth ideas such as using Google Meetup, Google hangouts (chat options instead of video)
  • Have faculty/students use their phones to call into a Webex or Google meeting
  • Not requiring video attendance
  • Use Google shared folders and docs (there are apps for smartphone use) – Integrate Google Doc into their Canvas courses
  • Submit a Word or PDF documents for assignments (strongly advise not emailing the assignments to the faculty)
  • Using one’s phone as a Hotspot (each vendor, iOS and Android have instructions)
  • Text messaging students using the Canvas Announcements option

Low-Bandwidth Use of Recording Technology

Possible “good enough” solution for making recorded lectures available to students:

  • Faculty create and record lectures in PowerPoint and save as mp4
  • Faculty create a YouTube account (or perhaps their department, school or college already has an account) and upload the mp4 files to their account
    • YouTube auto-captions video files reasonably well (at least for this “good enough” solution)
  • Faculty set the video file permissions as “unlisted” allowing anyone with the link to watch without having to sign in
  • Faculty link YouTube lecture videos on a page within their Canvas course
  • Advocate for your students’ disability/accessibility accommodations (provide multiple ways for accessing the content – text, audio)

Using Alternate Means for Multimedia Access

Other suggestions:

  • Don’t wait for weekends or late afternoon to upload videos. Everyone is doing the same plus assignments are usually due around this time (i.e 11:59 pm)
  • Short (small file size) video is still the better preference (
  • Or, break up video content into 10-15 minute mini-lecture segments. Shorter videos keep students attention and are faster to upload and process
  • Upload material in the order needed and upload early in the day and when needed (reduce file upload time, processing, and potential errors)
  • Save PowerPoint voice-overs as Slideshow file version (add to Canvas Pages – In Files)
  • Only record one input – webcam or screen, in Kaltura
  • Consider a Podcast (audio only) for Weekly summaries
  • Consider asynchronous delivery of content resources and discussions within Canvas
  • Use Kaltura Capture to record audio and video for your students to watch on their own schedule (

Additional resources: