Saturday, November 30, 2013

Digital Divide/Digital Inequality

Digital Inequality

To review my Google presentation please click the following:

Digital Inequality in Title One Elementary Schools

I was surprised to realize, after reading many articles and papers on this subject that, at least in the USA, digital inequality is more of an issue than digital divide.  Digital divide, in my mind, is an equipment and access issue.  In the US, even in socially depressed areas, there is access to computers and the internet.  The access can be found in schools, libraries, if not in homes.  Digital inequality, is what people do with the technology that is available to them.  The research being done in the last couple of years has been in this area.

It helped me better understand, as a teacher, that the focus of teaching technology may need to shift to teaching students effective internet skills.  Effective means, teaching students how to discern what they find on the internet, using the internet for information, connecting with business and social media, how to present oneself on the internet, internet safety when banking, buying, or selling, etc...

The survey above was more difficult than expected.  The school system that I worked in for the last ten years has made several changes this year.  The teachers are stressed.  I sent the request out to friends and associates, believing that I would have a good response in a short amount of time.  After two weeks, I finally had 4 responses.  That was after a couple of requests to personal friends.  Others stated they would respond and then did not.  I understand that this happens, however, this is one of the skills we need to teach students.  Having a survey published with only four responses is not truly relevant.  Helping students discern who created the information, where it came from, and how many people it represents is an important life skill.

This assignment definitely changed my perception on this subject.  I originally thought that the biggest challenge for the students I taught was not having enough equipment.  Today students learn, quickly, how to use laptops, computers, kindle, i pads, etc.. usually faster than myself and contemporaries.  For students to succeed past elementary school, they need to learn  how to use the equipment for more than gaming and "talking" to friends.  As my survey shows, "many" teachers still think it is the digital divide that needs to shift.  I believe this is a subject that teachers need more information on to better understand how to help our socially depressed students have a successful future.

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