Pew Research study: Digital divide adversely impacts low-income students

4 Mar

Moi wrote in The digital divide in classrooms:

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. https://drwilda.com/2012/01/25/the-digital-divide-in-classrooms/ Betsy Isaacson reports about a Pew Internet Research study in the Huffington Post article, Digital Divide Is ‘Major Challenge’ In Teaching Low-Income Students, Survey Finds:

The survey, which reaffirms other findings on the digital divide, reveals that 56 percent of teachers who work with low-income students say that their students’ lack of access to digital technology is a “major challenge” to using quality online resources in their lessons. The Washington Post, which reported on the findings earlier Thursday, notes that 3 percent of low-income students have access to Internet at home, in contrast to 50 percent of higher-income students.

Those without available Internet at home may take creative measures to gain online access: Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported on low-income students with no home Internet who used the Wi-Fi provided by McDonald’s and Starbucks for schoolwork. Other students may use local public libraries for Internet access, but many libraries have closed due to a lack of funds. Those that remain may have computer time limits.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/28/digital-divide-low-income-students_n_2782528.html?utm_hp_ref=@education123

Here’s a summary of the Pew findings:

A survey of 2,462 Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers finds that digital technologies have helped them in teaching their middle school and high school students in many ways. At the same time, the internet, mobile phones, and social media have brought new challenges to teachers.

In addition, they report that there are striking differences in the role of technology in wealthier school districts compared with poorer school districts and that there are clear generational differences among teachers when it comes to their comfort with technology and its use in their classrooms.

Asked about the impact of the internet and digital tools in their role as middle and high school educators, these teachers say the following about the overall impact on their teaching and their classroom work:

  • 92% of these teachers say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources, and materials for their teaching
  • 69% say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to share ideas with other teachers
  • 67% say the internet has a “major impact” on their ability to interact with parents and 57% say it has had such an impact on enabling their interaction with students

At the same time, 75% of AP and NWP teachers say the internet and other digital tools have added new demands to their lives, agreeing with the statement that these tools have a “major impact” by increasing the range of content and skills about which they must be knowledgeable.  And 41% report a “major impact” by requiring more work on their part to be an effective teacher. 

AP and NWP teachers bring a wide variety of digital tools into the learning process, including mobile phones, tablets, and e-book readers

The survey reveals the degree to which the internet and digital technologies, particularly mobile phones, suffuse teaching activities.  Laptops and desktops are central, but they note mobile technology use has also become commonplace in the learning process:

  • 73% of AP and NWP teachers say that they and/or their students use their mobile phones in the classroom or to complete assignments
  • 45% report they or their students use e-readers and 43% use tablet computers in the classroom or to complete assignments

Teachers most commonly use digital tools to have students conduct research online, which was the focus of an earlier report based on these data.1 It is also common for these teachers to have students access (79%) and submit (76%) assignments online.  More interactive online learning activities, such as developing wikis, engaging in online discussions, and editing work using collaborative platforms such as GoogleDocs, are also employed by some of the teachers in the sample. 

Overall, 62% of AP and NWP teachers feel their school does a “good job” supporting teachers’ efforts to bring digital tools into the learning process, and 68% say their school provides formal training in this area.  Still, 85% of these teachers seek out their own opportunities to learn new ways to effectively incorporate these tools into their teaching. 

Teachers worry about digital divides, though they are split about the impact of digital tools on their students

These teachers see disparities in access to digital tools having at least some impact on their students. More than half (54%) say all or almost all of their students have sufficient access to digital tools at school, but only a fifth of these teachers (18%) say all or almost all of their students have access to the digital tools they need at home.

Figure 1

Teachers of the lowest income students are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access to the digital tools they need, both in school and at home. In terms of community type, teachers in urban areas are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access to digital tools IN SCHOOL, while rural teachers are the least likely to say their students have sufficient access AT HOME. 

Overall, while many AP and NWP teachers express concern about growing disparities across schools and school districts, they are divided as to whether access to digital tools is leading to greater disparities among their students.  A large majority of these teachers (84%) agree to some extent with the statement that “Today’s digital technologies are leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools and school districts.”  However, asked whether today’s digital technologies are narrowing or widening the gap between the most and least academically successful students, 44% say technology is narrowing the gap and 56% say it is widening the gap.  

Teachers of the lowest income students experience the impact of digital tools in the learning environment differently than teachers whose students are from more affluent households

AP and NWP teachers’ experiences with using digital tools in their teaching vary in some notable ways depending on the socioeconomic status of the students they teach.  Among these findings:

  • 70% of teachers working in the highest income areas say their school does a “good job” providing teachers the resources and support they need to incorporate digital tools in the classroom, compared with 50% of teachers working in the lowest income areas

  • 73% of teachers of high income students receive formal training in this area, compared with 60% of teachers of low income students

  • 56% of teachers of students from higher income households say they or their students use tablet computers in the learning process, compared with 37% of teachers of the lowest income students

  • 55% of teachers of higher income students say they or their students use e-readers in the classroom, compared with 41%  teaching in low income areas

  • 52% of teachers of upper and upper-middle income students say their students use cell phones to look up information in class, compared with 35% of teachers of the lowest income students

  • 39% of AP and NWP teachers of low income students say their school is “behind the curve” when it comes to effectively using digital tools in the learning process; just 15% of teachers of higher income students rate their schools poorly in this area

  • 56% of teachers of the lowest income students say that a lack of resources among students to access digital technologies is a “major challenge” to incorporating more digital tools into their teaching; 21% of teachers of the highest income students report that problem

  • 49% of teachers of students living in low income households say their school’s use of internet filters has a major impact on their teaching, compared with 24% of those who teach better off students who say that

  • 33% of teachers of lower income students say their school’s rules about classroom cell phone use by students have a major impact on their teaching, compared with 15% of those who teach students from the highest income households…. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Teachers-and-technology/Summary-of-Findings.aspx

Citation:

How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms

Feb 28, 2013by Kristen Purcell, Alan Heaps, Judy Buchanan, Linda Friedrich

Summary of Findings

The best way to eliminate poverty is job creation, job growth, and job retention. 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 a good bibliography, go to Poverty and Education, Overview  There will not be a good quality of life for most citizens without a strong education system. One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education, we are the next third world country.

Related:

Translating digital learning into K-12 education             https://drwilda.com/2012/11/18/translating-digital-learning-into-k-12-education/

Rural schools and the digital divide                        https://drwilda.com/2012/06/21/rural-schools-and-the-digital-divide/

The digital divide affects the college application process https://drwilda.com/2012/12/08/the-digital-divide-affects-the-college-application-process/

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