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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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September082006

New Govt Report Exposes the School-Home Digital Divide

I might as well have fallen off the map.

This past week, I moved from Boston back to the DC area. Because of a mix-up with our new telecommunications provider, we won’t have phone, cable or Internet access until next Monday. To complicate matters, my smart phone gave up the ghost two days ago, leaving me without Internet access, except for piggybacking off of weak wi-fi signals in my new apartment complex. If I’m lucky I can get five-minute stretches of access a few times a day, but that’s about it. For the first time in a very long time, I’ve felt stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide. But a new survey from the US Department of Education shows that I’m hardly alone: there are millions of disadvantaged kids without Internet access at home - and none of them, unfortunately, are just waiting for the cable guy to come over and set it up for them.

The new report, Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003, is courtesy of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the US Department of Education. Right off the bat you may be wondering why a new report is dealing with data from three years ago, but that’s the way these government population surveys work - it takes a while to crunch all the numbers. NCES has been tracking Internet access in schools for well over a decade, back when the percentage of classrooms with Internet access reached only into the low single digits.

In their latest study, they’ve broken down 2003 government data to examine the demographics of students accessing the Internet both in school and at home. The report acknowledges up-front, “There is a ‘digital divide.’” It’s a term that’s fallen out of favor in government circles in recent years, but the report’s data is so clear there’s really no other way of describing the situtation.

First, let’s look at some of the good news. Internet access is almost ubiquitous in schools now, allowing students of all backgrounds relatively equal opportunities to go online for educational purposes. Nationally, 83% of students access the Internet in school, a number that would have been shocking not too many years ago. From early efforts like NetDay ‘96 to the national E-Rate Internet subsidy program, investments in classroom Internet infrastructure have trickled down to most students, at least as far as basic access goes.

Similarly, in-school access doesn’t discriminate. There’s no gender divide, with 84% of girls and 83% of boys going online in school. Nor is there a significant racial divide, with 85% of white students, 82% of African American students, 80% of Latinos, 79% of Asian-Americans, 83% of Native Americans and 86% of mixed ethnicity students with in-school access. The gap among students based on disability is relatively small, with 84% of non-disabled students and 76% of disabled students going online at school.

Meanwhile, their parents’ education and income levels don’t seem to affect who’s online in school and who isn’t. When comparing kids whose parents received graduate-level degrees versus those whose parents who received only a high school diploma or GED, the numbers were the same - 84% of kids in both categories were online at school. For kids whose parents didn’t complete high school, the rate was still high - 78%. In Latino households, it didn’t matter much if you spoke only Spanish at home: 76% of Spanish-only kids were online at school compared with 84% of Latino kids speaking English at home. And the gap between households earning less than $20,000 and those earning more than $75,000 is only six points: 80% versus 86%.

But that’s just what the numbers look like when kids are in school. As soon as they leave campus, the picture changes dramatically. Take ethnicity, for example. At home, 78% of white students have Internet access, which isn’t enormously different than the percentage with access at school. In comparison, only 46% of African American students, 48% of Latinos and 43% of Native Americans had access at home; Asian-Americans and mixed ethnicity students fared better at 74% apiece. Regarding disability, 68% of non-disabled students and 55% of disabled students had home access.

Parental education and income levels also reveal a stark divide at home. While a whopping 88% kids whose parents achieved a graduate-level of education had home Net access, the same was true of only 55% of kids whose parents completed high school - and only 35% of kids whose parents didn’t. If parents speak just Spanish at home, only 32% of kids had home Internet access, compared with 69% of kids whose parents spoke English. Lastly, 88% of kids whose parents earned more than $75,000 a year had home access, compared to just 37% of kids whose parents earned less than $20,000 a year.

Of course, my access predicament this week is only temporary. In a few days, hopefully, I’ll have a new cable modem and a new phone, and I’ll be as plugged in as any respectable blogger should be. But what about all those students out there whose families don’t have the means or the skills to provide Internet access? How does this bode for their educational attainment, particularly in comparison to their well-off, well-educated neighbors? As more classwork and homework requires Internet access, will these marginalized kids be forced to achieve academic excellence with one hand tied behind their backs?

Schools - and libraries - have led the way in bringing equity Internet access. Schools don’t often have many opportunities to say they’ve been cutting edge, but the quest to wire our schools has greatly outpaced the quest to wire the rest of community life over the last decade. Now that most underprivileged students have access at school, what can we do to ensure that their lack of access at home doesn’t hobble their academic performance - or their future potential for that matter? -andy

Filed under : Digital Divide, Research

Responses

Not only do the students not have access at home, some of the most interesting and creative aspects of the Internet are blocked. If DOPA passes the Senate, then it will be even worse.

With only academic access the students start to view the Internet as a chore, or a destination for nerds, geeks, and lames. Some of the students may disparage the net to lessen the blow of not having at home. “I don’t care if I don’t have Internet because it is lame anyway.”

Perhaps all schools should plant an antenna atop the roof of every district building and offer free wi-fi and laptops. Since Starbuck’s so proudly produced Akeelah and the Bee perhaps they could also offer up some of their bandwidth. Of course, they would have to start putting more franchises in the hood. Where is Magic Johnson when you need him?

In the past our country had the foresight to establish a postal system that charged the same rates for mail delivery to the next street, another city, or a remote rural location thousands of miles distant. Easy cheap means of communication was thought to be essential to hold the country together. I wish we had the same foresight today and would establish low-cost high-speed internet access for everyone.

The content of this article does not surprise me in the least. Unfortunately, our country has always been about the haves and the have-nots. However, the problem is more than providing internet access for all students, they first need to have a computer to get internet access.
Until it is possible for all students to have a computer with internet access, there should be more opportunities to access the internet in more public settings, such as schools and libraries. If an assignment requires the use of a computer or the internet, students who do not have access at home should be given an opportunity to complete assignments after school or during free time using the school’s internet access. Although this will not level the playing field in any respect, it is a step in the right direction.

No I do not really think that this “digital divide” is that big of a deal as long as all students have the learning opportunity. I’m very delighted to hear and read in this article that a large percent of students (no matter the gender, ethnicity etc) are utilizing technology at school. Most importantly I believe that students ought to be literate before learning computer literacy. I also believe that students ought to be able to be capable socially with their interactions with peers and figures of authority because technology may replace human interaction in some instances but not in all instances, nor should it. No doubt it is unfortunate that some students are being left behind because a computer does not exist within their home lives but I also believe that during the time the kids with computers are tooling around on the internet etc, the kids lacking computers are gaining other productive and valuable experiences as well. I also feel strongly that if a school decides to integrate technology into their curriculum, all teachers should be fluent with the technology and all of it’s programs. To quote a woman from the video “Digital Divide”, I believe that students “must have great teachers, not great machines”. However at the same time, if there is a fully confident and computer literate teacher with some creative ideas to help kids learn, then I’m all about the use of technology and I do find it to be important that ALL students at ALL levels learn how to use computers…I just think that they should know the basics like reading and writing before they sign on.

ne of the biggest questions that is facing our youth today is how important traditional cognitive learning is versus technological advancement learning in the classroom. For years schools were developed as a teacher centered orientation where the teacher taught and the students learned and absorbed. However, in the 21st century, jobs dictate a certain technological fluidity that students must possess before entering the workforce. One must ascertain the importance of this new technology and its place in the classroom. Moreover, if this technology is a necessity in the classroom as much as it is at home, when should this technology be introduced?

One of the major problems I see with this new technology is that it alienates the cognitive theories that are essential to learning at a young age. The cognitive developments summarized by Piaget are too important to ignore in primary schooling. In other words, I feel that to better understand these technologies, students must be adapted to a core curriculum first, and use computers as an agent of further advancement of these abilities. One of the main points that must be assessed is that technology is not an end rather; it is a means to advance better understanding of core goals and abilities.

One of the main arguments of this digital divide noted by this author however is not the ability to access computers at school, but at home. This racially prone argument has been subject to scrutiny for years, and has been noted in statistical trends in the minority-white test score gap as well. The issue it seems is how to level the playing field so that each student has an equal opportunity to learn at the same pace at school. It is impossible to dictate computer usage at home. While these statistics are alarming, the only thing a school can do as noted above is make sure that each student has access to the right form of technology. One way to ensure this happens is giving proper funding to area school districts, easier said than done I know.

The digital divide is a concern; however, I feel that social and cognitive development must remain supreme in the classroom. Over time, the statistical divide in test scores has shortened and I feel the digital divide will do the same. As long as schools can give each student the opportunity to access this new technology after they have learned critical learning and developmental skills, kids will merge smoothly into the new era.

Are we still surprised about any type of divide be it digital or otherwise if we still have economic disparity? All around us we see the more affluent societies being privileged to better access to resources than their poorer cousins across the tracks. School systems pretty much are a reflection of the local community given that the local schools are funded by local taxes; more taxes mean more money for higher budgeted items like technology. Poorer communities struggle for textbooks and good teachers, technology goes by the wayside as a nice dream, but far from reality.

With the coming of the 21st Century, we are well into a global world market society that requires those who wish to compete in or be successful with other foreign markets must be computer literate and have wide spectrum knowledge of how to communicate. You are never too early to learn computers or become knowledgeable in the use of high technology. I feel that all schools should have equal access to computers at all levels of schooling. Local communities should not have to bear the full burden of such a task, with NCLB the government should be putting in hefty percentages of funding to achieve this necessary goal. The government that gave us NCLB should feel obligated to support their investment of the child’s future; after all, one goal of education is to prepare students to compete in a world market that is constantly changing.

One good thing about computers is that they do not discriminate; there is equal access to all according to the PBS article by Andy Carvin. However, Andy Carvin also states that millions of children have no Internet access at home, which implies that if the child has the Internet; it is only from the school they attend. Though it would be wonderful that all schools were on an equal playing field, reality shows us that this is not possible at this time. Those without Internet access at home do have the possibility of local libraries that may have the Internet, but we may have to wait more years down the way before computers, Internet and finances to catch up with each other. With equal opportunity in education, it would be a goal of any educator to ensure that their students are riding on the information super highway than be stranded at a rest stop.

The Digital Divide is an issue that is not going to go away any time soon from education in the United States. Schools which had equipment provided 5 to 10 years ago when they were newly opened are facing the same problems that many families are also facing: How to afford the technology? With both schools and students facing this problem, it is clear that something needs to be done. With computers becoming more and more necessary for students to complete assignments and do research, schools which do not have the necessary amount of access will find themselves and their students falling behind the learning curve that is rapidly changing.
Many students have computers and internet access at home but schools are not always able to meet the growing need of their students. Money drives the economy, and the more a family has in terms of money, the more opportunities that should be available to their sons or daughters. As populations increase, the need for more technology increases as well to meet these needs. Many schools today simply cannot meet these required amounts because of money problems. Schools that are financed fully by corporations are not necessarily the norm. If you go to New York City, you will likely find schools that don’t have enough computers that would even come close to meeting student needs. Schools like the one in Philadelphia in the movie version of the Digital Divide are forced to put many things aside so their students can have the needed technology. This shouldn’t be the case.
I think the Digital Divide definitely exists. The hard part is figuring out what to do to close the gap so schools like the one Philadelphia are not the norm and ones like New Technology High School in California are more like the norm. Many Americans today probably don’t know what to do with their time if they did not have the internet available to them at a click of the mouse. It has become an activity that is as common as reading the newspaper or watching the television for your news. Just click and your there with anything you could want to know and more often than not more information than you will ever need. Once we get more schools equipped properly, the next step will be teaching students how to properly use the technology. Until these problems are fixed the divide will continue to grow. If the divide grows more than it is now, will we have students who are getting good educations prior to college being left behind because they don’t have the technology background?

I believe computers are important. They are a great tool for people to learn and achieve results. They can be very hard to learn, especially if you are an older person and are trying to catch up with people who are more accomplished digitally. It’s still an important way to gain access to a much larger world. I don’t think it is the end all-be all, however. Learning with books and one-on-one personal attention is also valuable and I have a hard time understanding how computers could be a better replacement for human interaction in a learning environment. I think there can be a balance between the two. Students can learn to use computers to gain information and to help them achieve certain results, just as their parents do in the workplace. But the esentials of learning can be gained through many different means, whether it be lectures, field trips or daily assignments using pencils and paper. Schools can be the only way some students are exposed to computers and for that reason, I think it is imperative that students have access to computers and gain computer literacy. I also believe that everyone might not excel with computer technolgy, just as not every child is proficient in math or English. There has to be room for all types of students in the schools. Some students may have computers at home and some may not, but hopefully they all can have access to some basic computer skills at school and gain knowledge as a result. Some may develop even greater skills through technology, but I wouldn’t want to discriminate between which students are more adept at certain programs than others. The best part about computers is realizing how they can be used in many different ways. They can serve the student’s individual interests and learning needs. Appreciating computers for what they can accomplish for all people is essential.

In the world today there is a recognizable growing intensity for the use of and reliance upon digital and technological materials which are clearly not made available for all students outside of the classroom. Knowing this, we need to, as educators, find a way to “cut corners” in our budgets without cutting out crucial elements which are necessary in developing a qualified and well-rounded future member of the adult society. The question remains, where do we cut? What isn’t necessary in our curriculums that can be replaced by this newfound necessity for digital access and understanding? Some would recommend the arts, but then what would our students have to write about in English class and reflect upon in their Social Studies? Others would say cut Physical Education but then, in turn, the school system would be “blamed” for the rising obesity crisis.

This Digital Divide is a problem which must be forcefully addressed immediately so that no student will be left behind or lacking in advantages due to a lower family income level. Those who do not have basic skills will not be able to find suitable jobs. Without knowledge of computers these students will simply repeat the lifestyles of their parents, not being able to afford whatever technologies their future children will need to excel due to lack of income. The future is now and this Divide must be addressed before even more students are left behind without the capacities necessary to succeed in a world being dominated and ran by this indispensable technology.

In reference to a “digital divide” being evident amoung learners today I believe that we as a community should be concerned that there is a division and continues to widen as technology changes and advances. Each student needs to be taught basic computer skills to create written work, search for and share information via computer/internet with other learners.
Computer skills should not replace basic reading, writing and mathematic skills taught in school rather computer skills should be a tool which enhances and supports the curriculum being taught.
Funding required to close the gap of the “digital divide” I believe is a major set back for the schools who are not wired already. The video suggested local businesses and or individuals assist in having computers installed so students would have one available to them would be ideal.

I think the idea of a “digital divide” is very real this day in age in our schools for various reasons. I think there is a great digital divide between generations because today’s children have been born into this technology whereas older generations are forced to learn these skills. It is much more difficult to teach the older generations these new skills because some are not willing to accept the technology, while others are scared or just do not understand what they are learning. I believe this is where the “digital divide” becomes greatest because when you have kids/students who already understand many of these skills and have educators or parents who are unable to help them advance these skills or put them to good use, while other students may be learning more about these skills, there becomes this divide even within a generation, who started with the same skills, because of the further knowledge they did or did not receive.
I think this digital divide can definitely be overcome with time if the time and resources are put into ensuring every child is receive equal time with the digital world. However, this is obviously going to take time and resources that are not going to be available to everyone, which is where another digital divide occurs. Wherever there is money, the children are certainly going to have access to a greater amount and quality of technology, and therefore will have a leg up on their peers in poor areas or schools. I think the business sponsors that some schools have are a great way to try to level the playing field in terms of technology. My only concern with the business sponsors is that I would fear that this type of commercialization in schools could get out of hand and schools, innocently merely wanting to further their type of technology, could end up being called the Elementary School.
In the Digital Divide video, I think that the teacher in Washington found a phenomenal way to incorporate technology into here classroom, while finding a balance with the various subjects. The idea of documenting data and putting it onto the computer, then corresponding with people all over the world is a great way to make sure that the students have access to the technology, know how to use it correctly and can learn across the curriculum seems like the perfect balance of technology and classroom learning that can help prevent such a big digital divide.
In a world of No Child Left Behind, I think we need to think about not leaving our children behind in the world of technology by having the government provide funding for technology education as well. There will always be some type of digital divide; however, I believe with some dedication, we can greatly shrink it.

This digital divide is indicative not only of the technology gap but also of the disappearing of the middle class. These statistics that are presented clearly show that many of the less educated and minority families in the United States are not receiving the proper tools for a modern education. The only place that children are guaranteed internet access seems to be at the schools and not at the homes.

Imagine a school with no homework or out-of-school assignments. How much would the children learn? Can they really be expected to gain true knowledge of a subject when they only have an hour and a half a day? If the students do not have complete internet access outside of school, there is no way for them to compete with other students who do have access. Maybe instead of the government taking time and spending money on lengthy arduous reports on digital divides; they should provide more funding for the families who do not opportunities to such technology.

Before watching this video and reading the article assigned for this task, I did not believe there was a real digital divide. Sure I saw a digital divide among the generations. After all, my parents know less about the computer then I do; and my nieces and nephews know more about computers then I do. But I did not believe there was a digital divide among school age children. In fact, I assumed that all students had computers at home and that all school aged children were ahead of the digital divide, and I on the other side.
Unfortunately, the truth is, not all of our students will have a computer at home. According to the article by Carvin, there is a clear “digital divide” among different racial groups and economic classes. This means that educators have a responsibility to close that divide and ensure that all students have some type of technological literacy before they graduate and enter a world which requires a certain digital competency.
In the PBS “Digital Divide” video we saw in class, there is a large debate about the use of technology in the classroom. This polarized debate includes views from many who believe that technology has no place in schools. These individuals believe that using technology in the classroom prevents students from utilizing their creativity and stifles there learning. On the other extreme, there are others who believe that technology should be the “end all” in education, because technology is eminent for the future of our society.
I, on the other hand, believe that technology belongs somewhere in the middle. In early elementary school, students should be exposed to computers and other sources of technology. Teachers can easily do this without setting aside specific time for “technology,” by utilizing technology within other curriculum activities. By incorporating technology within lessons, elementary students not only have the opportunity to utilize technology, but they also see it being modeled by there teacher.
As students get older, their use of technology should increase. I believe that students should have relevant skills for the workplace when they graduate high school. By using computers students can learn collaboration and team work as well as other necessary skills needed for today’s entry level jobs.

Definitely, technology became very important thing in our lives. Young generations are born into this technology sensational century. Technology has been intergraded in many aspects of program in schools. Students can work together collaboratively, share and receive ideas from internet; and mostly, students can use digital devices to open their minds and think more flexibly. Some people might say, all kids are using computers for games and own pleasures. That is because they have not taught how to use it effectively from schools. For this reason, schools are supporting teachers to learn, first, about technology to help teacher to enhance their curriculums and use computer technology as another tool box in classroom, furthermore teach and guide students how to use computers appropriate ways.(Be sure to appreciate both technology and non technologies.) So as the writer, Andy, says in the article, many students have access to internet services at schools where they can learn and keep the skills up with other peers. But unfortunately, still in these days, many students don’t have computers back at their homes due to their parents’ low income status and other problems. It is our community and society job to help out students to cross digital divide not for future success but for fair opportunities. As a technology expert said once that computers won’t be uninvented so teachers and educators must keep ask themselves how and what to do a better job with it.

Today’s advances in computer technology has “digitally divided” our nation. Computers have become a necessity, not only in the home but in the classroom, as well. Over the years, computers have integrated their way into practically every classroom. However, this sudden surge of technology into the school setting has caused many problems for teachers and students, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Lack of Teacher Training: Not all teachers are trained with the proper, technological skills necessary to have in order to successfully make use of a computer in the classroom. Some teachers have no idea how to use certain software, yet alone know how to go about teaching the program to their students. I believe that every school system that wishes to integrate computer technology full speed into their curriculum should provide teachers with the appropriate computer training. If training is not made available, it is not only a disservice to the educators, but to their students as well.
Computer Accessibility: With the influx of computers into the classroom, more and more classroom/ homework assignments require students to use the internet, etc. Teachers ask kids to go home and research topics or practice newly learned skills on the computer all the time. I question if the teacher knows whether or not every student has access to a computer outside of the classroom? When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to have a computer at home. I can remember coming home from school, getting on the computer and continuing to practice my typing skills on Mavis Beacon. Not all children had that “privilege,” so to speak. In retrospect, it seems somewhat unfair that I was able to excel on my typing skills while some of my fellow classmates struggled, simply because they didn’t have a computer to practice on at home. Similar to today, there remain thousands upon thousands of under-privileged children who do not have access to a computer in their homes and they are in a sense, being academically “penalized.” All children deserve equal learning opportunities and environments, both inside and outside of the classroom. Whether or not someone has access to a computer or has the proper technological skills; should not be the dividing force between the successful and unsuccessful. I believe the author of the article hinted on the root of the problem in his closing paragraph. He pointed out that society has been quick to “wire our schools” and not the rest of “our communities.” If we don’t begin to put as much initiative into wiring our communities, like we have our schools, we won’t be able to close any “digital divide” within our society because we’d have already left half the nation behind.

Thanks for all the insightful comments, but what’s with the sudden burst of energy? This post is a few months old. Are all of you participating in a class or something? Either way, great comments - keep ‘em coming…. -andy

Ah…the perfect world! Everyone has enough to eat, has heat in the winter and a swimming pool in the summer, can feel safe walking through their neighborhood at night, has a parent meet their children at the bus stop each afternoon with a plate of chocolate chip cookies, and has unlimited computer and Internet access. Well, we can all dream.

I realize that sounds quite condescending of the idea of inequality in our society, but the truth is many students eat their breakfast and lunch at school because there is nothing at home. I recently saw a television show that documented a family whose children had to hurry and do their homework before dark because they had no electricity. These scenarios are far more common in America that we might want to believe. For those families, just surviving is far more essential than being able to google something tonight.

Our society strives for equality, and I believe our schools are doing great things for our children in making that happen. According to the statistics in this article, our schools are providing access to technology that many, many of these students otherwise could not have dreamed. I believe every student needs to learn about computers, how to operate them effectively, and how to use them to their advantage…just like any other educational (or life) tool. Schools try to provide equality for all their students, and I believe having more than an 80% Internet access rate for all was unthinkable just 10 years ago. We’ve come a long way, baby! (That rate only states Internet access - I’d love to know how many have computer usage and knowledge of PC based software.)

Although I see computers as essential to all students, I whole-heartedly believe they first and foremost need an excellent education provided by outstanding teachers who are willing and able to use all tools they have available. It may be difficult to teach someone in their 80s to use a computer, but it is nearly impossible to teach that person how to get along with others, how to problem-solve, or how to think creatively. These are the skills that are essential for the fleeting years children have in school. Access: Yes! Dependence: No!

I look back at what I’ve written, and it sounds so small-minded and critical. Not my intent. I think that everyone should have equal access to current technology, but I am not naive enough to believe that is going to happen outside of publicly provided resources. Thank goodness schools and libraries can provide them. More importantly, I believe schools should not be deluded into betting our children’s future that current technology is the “magic bullet” that will give children everything they need. Great teachers are the key.

As stated in the PBS special The Digital Divide, there are many educators who really resist the idea of incorporating computers and the internet into their lessons plans. I think that most of the resistance would dissipate if teachers were given adequate computer training and shown how computer literacy would benefit their students’. I’m sure there was some resistance to teach typing skills when typewriters were first introduced, but look how important it is to possess proper keyboarding skills. For example, if I were asked to write a letter to a business partner I would be expected to type it, not write it by hand. In the business world the days of penmanship skills are outdated. If one does not possess adequate typing skills I feel that they are really at a disadvantage in the work place. Just like typing skills, computer skills are absolutely necessary to function in almost every job. Computers are a part of our lives and are never going away so why not teach children how to use them properly and really get good at using them. Having worked in an office environment, I know that almost every employer looks for people who know how to use a computer and various computer programs. Because of this, I think teachers are doing a disservice to their students’ if they don’t incorporate computers and the internet into their lesson plans. I’m of the opinion that computers can really enhance the learning experience and I hope to incorporate them into my own lesson plans when I become a teacher.

On the other hand, it’s not always apprehension that keeps teachers from incorporating computers into their lesson plans. Some schools simply do not have adequate funding to purchase and maintain computers. This is usually the case in lower socio-economic areas and it puts children who attend those schools at a greater disadvantage than children who live and attend schools in middle to high socio-economic areas. Not only do most of the children in lower socio-economic schools have little to no access to computers at school, they most likely don’t have access to a computer at home. In order to keep these children from getting further behind in the computer age, I think there needs to be a greater emphasis on providing every school with adequate “technology” funding.

If funding doesn’t come from the government then it should come from local businesses, especially companies in the technology field. If companies were to purchase and pay for the maintanence of computers in their area schools, they would ultimately be benefiting their own future success by creating highly functional employees that possess necessary computer skills. It really is a win, win situation for companies to be involved in their local schools.

I believe that there is a digital divide, but many people are unaware of how increasingly large the gap has grown or even that there is one to be worried about. We live in a world that is rapidly moving at a fast pace and the field of technology is increasing at an alarming rate. Five years ago the computers that we had in school were high-tech and today are obsolete. Computer technology is not going to come to a halt or hit its peak, but only become more important and critical to our everyday lives. It is inevitable, whether you are blue collar or white collar, teacher or student, everyone will need to know the basic computer skills needed to perform well in school or the workplace.
In the article, research shows that most schools in the United States provide students with the computers and the technology that is necessary to help them learn and use these important skills. The question to ask is, are student’s given enough time and opportunity during school hours to truly establish and practice these skills? Is it enough to bridge the digital divide? Unfortunately, even though classrooms are providing the technology not all teachers know how to effectively utilize the computer in their classroom or give the proper amount of time to use the technology. We need to make sure that the focus is not on just breaking the digital divide of the younger generation, but the older generation of computer illiterate teachers that are going to teach our children.
The digital divide will improve with the incorporation of computers and skills in the classroom, but it can not solve the problem completely. Research from the article also showed that the overwhelming amount of divide is in the home. Factors such as family income and parental education is the barrier that keeps the digital divide alive. Many children are unable to the luxury of having computers at their finger tips. This problem is not easily curable; therefore, schools and teachers need to take the time to integrate computers into their day. For many children this is the only opportunity they have to try and create a level playing field for themselves and gain the skills to close the gap of the digital divide.

After reading the article on “digital divide” and watching the pbs video, Digital Divide, I have been enlightened to this concept. I am a veteran teacher who has to learn to use technology in the classroom and I can tell you that it is hard to change. I do believe there is a digital divide that exists and I feel that it is not only in the school versus the home, it exists in our school systems as well. I am presently in a school where we have a computer lab and computers in the classroom. We also have funding to upgrade when needed. The problem is the competency of our teachers to be able to use the technology to effectively benefit the students. We, as teachers, need to be given time for training so that we can be comfortable and capable of using this technology. I feel this is another “digital divide” in the sense that we are not giving the students the most out of what is available. Now knowing that the digital divide is the gap between the haves and the have-nots in regard to internet access, I can see a concern and the need to not have the gap increase. Until society sees the necessity to make access to the internet affordable and available to all, regardless of income or education, we have to be sensitive to the digital divide. As educators we have the obligation to prepare our students for the future. We are in the Information Age. Besides having access to internet, it is important that students are computer literate. Using word processing, power point, data base or spreadsheet to enhance their traditional learning will help prepare them for tomorrow.

According to this article, it seems like school districts across the US are doing a good job in ensuring equal access to the Internet for a majority of the school population. This is especially true when you take into consideration that incorporating and maintaining technology access in schools is an expensive and challenging process. It is also a positive sign that children from minority groups are being granted equal access to the Internet in their schools.
Unfortunately, the gap between those who can afford technology at home and those who don’t still remains wide and does not reflect the improvements occurring in public schools. My concern is that children from less advantaged families may become less technologically competitive than children who have guaranteed Internet access at home simply because they will not have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and use of the Internet outside the classroom.
One way to minimize the effects of this limitation would be to ensure that disadvantaged students have equal opportunities to acquire competitive technology skills in the classroom, especially in areas that are very relevant to the demands of the labor market. Make sure that they are given priority in accessing the Internet in the school since they don’t have such resource at home.
There will always be a divide in our society. Either technology, or race, or economic conditions will separate the advantaged from the disadvantaged. Our job as educators is to promote a learning environment that provides equality to all our students and to do our best to help the disadvantaged succeed. Regarding technology, we need to develop effective strategies to incorporate the best of technology in the curriculum and to teach our students how to use technology to their advantage whether it is easily accessible to them or not.

It is obvious that what goes on in the home affects how one does at school.  We know from experience that basic needs like food, clothing, or shelter that are not met in the home have an effect on student performance at school.  Programs such as free and reduced breakfast and lunches, onsite social services, and counseling are provided to help lessen the gap that exists between studnets.  While having access to technology is certainly not as important as meeting basic needs, the digital “haves” and the “have nots” are going to become more evident as technology becomes more and more imperative and permeates what we do in our lives.  I concur with Andy Carvin, there is a school to home digital divide.  We should not want any children to be lost or left behind in the digital age.  What are schools, the public, and/or the government going to do to help assure these students are not be penalized because they lack appropriate technology at home?  As a current classroom teacher, I try to be aware of those students without access to a home computer so they are not unfairly burdened or left behind in the digital dust. All children should be equipped and education should be equal.  I would question some of the data from the government report that finds that the digital divide is not that evident from school to school.  As Jonathan Kozal finds in “Savage Inequalities,” there are many areas in the United States where education is still not equal for all. In fact, inequities still abound in many areas.

Technology should be a tool to help students better prepare themselves for future business and work related jobs.  It is not enough to have access to technology but it must be used to gain skills and enhance learning.  We cannot, as the video noted, “uninvent the computer.”  It also does not mean that we must sacrifice reading literacy for computer literacy as some teachers in the video argue.  While some believe technology to be just a passive, glorified video game machine used only for rewards or drill and practice, when used properly and modeled by trained and confident teachers, technology can foster critical thinking skills that better enable students for the future.  It is clear though that a teacher must utilize all methods needed to create a successful learning environment.  Technology is, in my opinion as the video stated, “another tool in the teacher’s toolbox.”  We as teachers should ask the question what can technology do to enhance learning that no other medium can do quite as well?  Teachers need to be trained.  My school recently acquired Smart Boards for individual classroom use, but currently one sits in my classroom unused because I have not been trained to use it properly. Just having technology sitting in the classroom is not a help in and of itself. Likewise, just because a student has access to a computer at home does not mean that they will be using it properly to enhance their learning. That is why schools need to train teachers and students alike.

In response to this article, and to the video presentation, Digital Divide, there seems to be a gap in access to technology and internet resources for education. Although I do think that there is the potential for a reduction in the gap rather than it widening, since the video and the above mentioned statistics are a few years old, it is astounding at the difference between internet access in the schools versus homes, and the related socioeconomic status. True, internet access has become easier and more affordable, but computers themselves can be expensive and require maintenance, that schools and families can not always easily afford.

There are arguments on both sides in the video, but theth seemed rather extreme to me. I think the key is finding a balance, and most importantly, integrating technology as a part of existing curriculum, to enhance learning. There are numerous ways that technology can benefit education, but it is going to take preparation and teamwork. Teachers have to be trained how to use technology and in turn students have to become digitally responsible.

I believe that computer skills are becoming increasingly just as important as the traditional reading, writing, and math skills. Communication and business have all become wired. We cannot leave technology, computers, and the internet completely out of the classroom, that would be ignorance. However, I do not think that the computer could ever become a replacement for a good teacher. The best teacher are those that inspire their students. Learning occurs when a student is motivated. There is something about the human touch that simply cannot be replaced by a machine.

As stated by others who have posted this information does not at all surprise me. Education in general has effected the have and the have-nots. Anytime anything has a monetary value attached to it those who have less money lose out. Therefore, since the government governs education, I believe it is the government’s responsibility to insure that there is more free accessibility to those who cannot afford the Internet. The Internet is our modern-day library. Is the library only accessible to those who can afford it? Of course not! Why should you only be able to have access to do your course work if you can afford the means to do it? With the government pushing No Child Left Behind I would think one place to start is to make sure every child has ALL the means ALL the time to do their work to the best of their ability. That would be having access to the Internet. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean having every home with a computer with Internet access. However, every small sector of a community should be equipped with centers, rooms, etc., that can be used by students. Even if it has to be limited for student use during certain hours such as 6 to 9 Monday through Thursday and certain hours through Saturday and Sunday. There can be other stations for general public use or let them go to the public library. I do believe we need to make student learning via the Internet a priority and a level field.

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