The digital divide in classrooms

25 Jan

One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. The Asian Development Bank has the best concise synopsis of the link between Education and Poverty For a good article about education and poverty which has agood bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview As technology becomes more prevalent in society and increasingly is used in schools, there is talk of a “digital divide” between the haves and have-nots. Laurence Wolff and Soledad MacKinnon define the “digital divide” in their article, What is the Digital Divide?

The “digital divide,” inequalities in access to and utilization of information and communication technologies (ICT), is immense.

http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/57449/digitaldivide.pdf

Access to information technology varies within societies and it varies between countries. The focus of this article is the digital divide in education.

Jim Jansen reports in the Pew Internet report, Use of the internet in higher-income households:

Those in higher-income households are different from other Americans in their tech ownership and use.

95% of those in households earning over $75,000 use the internet and cell phones

Those in higher-income households are more likely to use the internet on any given day, own multiple internet-ready devices, do things involving money online, and get news online.

Some 95% of Americans who live in households earning $75,000 or more a year use the internet at least occasionally, compared with 70% of those living in households earning less than $75,000.

Even among those who use the internet, the well off are more likely than those with less income to use technology. Of those 95% of higher-income internet users:

  • 99% use the internet at home, compared with 93% of the internet users in lower brackets.
  • 93% of higher-income home internet users have some type of broadband connection versus 85% of the internet users who live in households earning less than $75,000 per year. That translates into 87% of all those in live in those better-off households having broadband at home.
  • 95% of higher-income households own some type of cell phone compared with 83% in households with less income.

The differences among income cohorts apply to other technology as well

The relatively well-to-do are also more likely than those in lesser-income households to own a variety of information and communications gear.3

  • 79% of those living in households earning $75,000 or more own desktop computers, compared with 55% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 79% of those living in higher-income households own laptops, compared with 47% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 70% of those living in higher-income households own iPods or other MP3 players, compared with 42% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 54% of those living in higher-income households own game consoles, compared with 41% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 12% of those living in higher-income households own e-book readers such as Kindles, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes.
  • 9% of those living in higher-income households own tablet computers such as iPads, compared with 3% of those living in less well-off homes. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Better-off-households.aspx

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Unless school leadership is very innovative in seeking grants and/or outside assistance or the school has been adopted by a technology angel, poorer schools are likely to be far behind their more affluent peers in the acquisition of technology.

Nick Pandolfo reports in the Hechinger Report article, As some schools plunge into technology, poor schools are left behind:

The term “digital divide” used to refer to whether classrooms had computers connected to the Internet. Now, the bar has been raised, as newer software programs require high-speed connections and as WiFi-dependent devices such as iPads make their way into classrooms.

Even though Chicago Public Schools reports spending about $40 million a year on technology, Bronzeville Scholastic lags behind its peers and exemplifies a dangerous disparity that exists in the United States, according to Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.

Chicago in particular probably highlights the digital divide that’s across the country,” Patrick said. “Some schools may have access to one-to-one pilots, and other schools have old infrastructure that is barely functional, so that kids don’t have access to the computers.”

As a result, Patrick said, students are “not building their technology skills, (and) they’re not able to access some of the courses and supplemental materials that would help them ramp up and be successful.”

Technology spending in schools varies widely across the country, as some districts reap the benefits of grants and parental donations, while others tap local, state and federal funding….

Nationally, schools that provide laptops and tablets to students often grab the headlines, worrying educators at less tech-savvy schools that their students are being left behind their wired peers.

I’ve seen huge disparities, where I’ve gone into classrooms in urban districts and the paint is peeling and there’s not a computer in sight, to very high-end districts where every kid has an iPad they can bring home,” said Lisa Gillis, president of Integrated Educational Strategies, a national nonprofit based in California that helps schools implement digital curricula. “We have a long way to go.”

http://hechingerreport.org/content/as-some-schools-plunge-into-technology-poor-schools-are-left-behind_7463/

The government is aware of the “digital divide “and where that divide is geographically.

Mini Swamy, writes in TMCnet article, National Broadband Map Reveals Digital Divide in Schools:

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, NTIA, has released the first National Broadband Map in the country, a search tool that searches, analyzes and maps broadband availability across the country. This has been created and maintained by NTIA in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission.

Data released by the NTIA shows that Internet connection in educational institutions lack the level of broadband connectivity. Although virtually all schools are connected to the Internet, the speed of connection is inadequate to meet the education goals. The findings are particularly relevant for federal and state policy makers.

A press release based on studies by state education technology directors, released by NTIA, revealed that while most schools need a connection of 50 to 100 mbps per 1,000 students, data showed that almost two-thirds of those surveyed subscribed to a speed less than 25 mbps.

http://education.tmcnet.com/topics/education/articles/149137-national-broadband-map-reveals-digital-divide-schools.htm

The “digital divide” has implications for U.S. economic growth.

Professor Susan P. Crawford of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology and innovation policy writes in the New York Times article, The New Digital Divide:

The new digital divide raises important questions about social equity in an information-driven world. But it is also a matter of protecting our economic future. Thirty years from now, African-Americans and Latinos, who are at the greatest risk of being left behind in the Internet revolution, will be more than half of our work force. If we want to be competitive in the global economy, we need to make sure every American has truly high-speed wired access to the Internet for a reasonable cost.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/opinion/sunday/internet-access-and-the-new-divide.html?pagewanted=all

One of the skills that students must learn and be comfortable with is the use of technology. Unfortunately, the poorer student’s access is often limited because their schools sit firmly on the “digital divide.”

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

6 Responses to “The digital divide in classrooms”

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