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ItemThe Digital Divide in Online Education: A Study of Underserved College Students( 2022-01-04)Access to technology is essential to educational success in today’s digitized society, but disparities in access to technology can handicap students. This study examines to what extent this digital divide exists among underserved students in online instruction during COVID-19 and in their adoption of free Technology Loaner programs. Focusing on underserved students that are characterized by their generational status, minority background or low income, we predict that underserved college students will show lower levels of technology access and higher levels of free technology adoption than their counterparts. However, the quantitative analysis of survey data (n=258) collected from a U.S. minority-serving university provides mixed, surprising results. Follow-up analysis of qualitative data from 10 interviews offers us further insights and partial explanations for these unexpected results. Our study suggests that individual background should be considered in designing a policy to mitigate digital divide and enhance student learning in online education.