Tag Archives: Education Technology

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 ©

The latest education Ponzi scheme: Education uprising in Idaho

5 Jan

If one believes that all children, regardless of that child’s status have a right to a good basic education and that society must fund and implement policies, which support this principle. Then, one must discuss the issue of equity in education.  Plessy v. Ferguson established the principle of “separate but equal” in race issues. Brown v. Board of Education which overturned the principle of “separate but equal.” would not have been necessary, but for Plessy. See also, the history of Brown v. Board of Education Because of the segregation, which resulted after Plessy, most folks focus their analysis of Brown almost solely on race. The issue of equity was just as important. The equity issue was explained in terms of unequal resources and unequal access to education.

Matt Richtel has written an interesting New York Times article, Teachers Resist High-Tech Push in Idaho Schools.

Ann Rosenbaum, a former military police officer in the Marines, does not shrink from a fight, having even survived a close encounter with a car bomb in Iraq. Her latest conflict is quite different: she is now a high school teacher, and she and many of her peers in Idaho are resisting a statewide plan that dictates how computers should be used in classrooms.

Last year, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a law that requires all high school students to take some online classes to graduate, and that the students and their teachers be given laptops or tablets. The idea was to establish Idaho’s schools as a high-tech vanguard.

To help pay for these programs, the state may have to shift tens of millions of dollars away from salaries for teachers and administrators. And the plan envisions a fundamental change in the role of teachers, making them less a lecturer at the front of the room and more of a guide helping students through lessons delivered on computers.

This change is part of a broader shift that is creating tension — a tension that is especially visible in Idaho but is playing out across the country. Some teachers, even though they may embrace classroom technology, feel policy makers are thrusting computers into classrooms without their input or proper training. And some say they are opposed to shifting money to online classes and other teaching methods whose benefits remain unproved.

Teachers don’t object to the use of technology,” said Sabrina Laine, vice president of the American Institutes for Research, which has studied the views of the nation’s teachers using grants from organizations like the Gates and Ford Foundations. “They object to being given a resource with strings attached, and without the needed support to use it effectively to improve student learning.”

In Idaho, teachers have been in open revolt. They marched on the capital last spring, when the legislation was under consideration. They complain that lawmakers listened less to them than to heavy lobbying by technology companies, including Intel and Apple. Teacher and parent groups gathered 75,000 verified signatures, more than was needed, to put a referendum on the ballot next November that could overturn the law.

This technology is being thrown on us. It’s being thrown on parents and thrown on kids,” said Ms. Rosenbaum, 32, who has written letters to the governor and schools superintendent. In her letters she tells them she is a Republican and a Marine, because, she says, it has become fashionable around the country to dismiss complaining teachers as union-happy liberals. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/04/technology/idaho-teachers-fight-a-reliance-on-computers.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

Grading the Digital School

A Changing Role

Articles in this series are looking at the intersection of education, technology and business as schools embrace digital learning.

Previous Articles in the Series »

The Frontier of Classroom Technology

One of the interesting allegations in Idaho is that funds are being shifted from teacher salaries. A key question is who profits or benefits from this particular foray into technology?

Melanie Smollin has an excellent post at Take Part, Five Reasons Why Teacher Turnover Is On The Rise

With approximately 1.6 million teachers set to retire in the next decade, replenishing America’s teaching force should be a top priority. But filling classrooms with new teachers is only half the battle. Retaining them is equally important.

Numerous studies show that teachers perform best after being in the classroom for at least five years. According to a McKinsey study, 14 percent of American teachers leave after only one year, and 46 percent quit before their fifth year. In countries with the highest results on international tests, teacher turnover rates are much lower—around 3 percent.

This constant cycling in and out of new teachers is a costly phenomena. Students miss being taught by experienced educators, and schools and districts nationwide spend about $2.2 billion per year recruiting and training replacements.

Why are so many new teachers fleeing the profession after so few years in the classroom? Here are the top five reasons teacher turnover is an ongoing challenge:

5. BURNOUT: A recent U.C. Berkeley study of Los Angeles charter schools found unusually high rates of teacher turnover. At the 163 charter schools studied, teacher turnover hovered around 40 percent, compared to 15 percent at traditional public schools.

Since demands on charter school educators are seemingly boundless, including extended hours, researchers theorized, burnout is a viable explanation for the teacher exodus. “We have seen earlier results showing that working conditions are tough and challenging in charter schools,” explained U.C. Berkeley’s Bruce Fuller. “Charter teachers wear many hats and have many duties and are teaching urban kids, challenging urban kids, but we were surprised by the magnitude of this effect.”

4.THREAT OF LAYOFFS: In response to annual budget shortfalls, districts nationwide have sent pink slips to tens of thousands of teachers each spring for the past four years. In 2011, California sent out 30,000.

Retired teacher and author Jaime O’Neill believes this ongoing threat to job security has a destabilizing effect. As a new teacher, he wrote, you can expect your job “threatened each and every year when the annual state budget reveals once more that big cuts to education are coming, that you’ve been pink slipped until or unless there’s a last-minute reprieve. That yearly panic will cause you to wonder why you ever went into teaching in the first place, and you will surely make plans to seek other employment with each mention of just how precarious your employment is.”

3. LOW WAGES: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said that teachers should earn between $60,000 and $150,000 per year. That’s a far cry from the current national average starting salary for teachers, which is $35,139.

Linda DeRegnaucourt, an accomplished high school math teacher, told CNN that after working for five years without a raise, and taking home an annual salary of $38,000, she simply cannot afford to continue doing the job she loves. DeRegnaucourt, like many other teachers, will leave the profession to pursue a more lucrative career.

2. TESTING PRESSURE: Since the No Child Left Behind Act was introduced in 2001, standardized test scores in math and reading have become the most important accountability measure used to evaluate schools.

Studies show that pressure to raise student test scores causes teachers to experience more stress and less job satisfaction. Many educators resent narrowing curriculum and stifling creativity in favor of teaching to the test.

On the National Center for Education Information’s “Profile of Teachers in the U.S. 2011,” the majority of comments submitted by survey respondents were “expressions of strong opposition to the current emphasis on student testing.”

As states increasingly rely on standardized test scores to evaluate individual educators, determine teacher pay and make lay-off decisions, testing pressure will only increase.

1. POOR WORKING CONDITIONS: When the Gates foundation polled 40,000 teachers about job satisfaction, the majority agreed that supportive leadership, time for collaboration, access to high quality curriculum and resources, clean and safe buildings, and relevant professional development were even more important than higher salaries.

But working conditions in many public schools remain far from this ideal—especially for beginning teachers, who are most likely to be assigned to the highest-need schools. Despite the added challenges they face, these teachers are often given few resources and little professional support.

It is true that students need to be familiar with technology, but students also need a firm grounding in basic academic skills.

It is interesting that in “Silicon Valley,” the epicenter of the tech revolution, tech moguls often send their children to a low tech school. Matt Richtel reports in the New York Times article, A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute:

The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

This is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, one of around 160 Waldorf schools in the country that subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

The Waldorf method is nearly a century old, but its foothold here among the digerati puts into sharp relief an intensifying debate about the role of computers in education.

I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”

Mr. Eagle knows a bit about technology. He holds a computer science degree from Dartmouth and works in executive communications at Google, where he has written speeches for the chairman, Eric E. Schmidt. He uses an iPad and a smartphone. But he says his daughter, a fifth grader, “doesn’t know how to use Google,” and his son is just learning. (Starting in eighth grade, the school endorses the limited use of gadgets.)

Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Mr. Eagle, like other parents, sees no contradiction. Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”

While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look — blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?pagewanted=all

Certainly something to ponder. Meanwhile, folks should be asking who really benefits and more importantly, who profits in Idaho?

See:

Online K-12 education as a cash cow for ‘Wall Street’ https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/online-k-12-education-as-a-cash-cow-for-wall-street/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©