EDTC 601

EDTC 601 – Virtual Collaboration and Communities

Reflection

In previous classes I have taken a look at the digital divide, and in my first years teaching I personally encountered it again and again. In this class I researched root causes of the digital divide and found that they could be broken down into three components: knowledge of the teacher, student access, and quality of the technology itself. Sometimes it’s just one of these, but more often than not it comes down to all three.

The level of technical know-how has differed dramatically in each of the schools I have taught, most of the time without regard to the age or experience of the teacher. In my first school, though our level of access was low, teachers still strove to make the most of what we had.  In my current school, which is mostly ESL students, teachers are split on whether to allow laptops into the classroom, with many of the local teachers preferring to teach straight from the book, while the foreign teachers are wanting to make use of a variety of tools. If the previous few years of test results are any indication, what they teachers are doing is moderately successful, but in talking to the students they find irritating to not to be able to access their translation tools and other resources.

Student access has been a sore spot for me in only a few positions. In my first school we spent a year in a technology drought, with computers in the rooms not being updated and the funding for the new computer lab being held up. Later on, when I was working at an international school, students had to bring their own laptops. This was an issue when students would forget or have a broken laptop that the parents weren’t quick to fix. There should be a number of option for students if technology such as a laptop is going to be a prerequisite. Laptops that can be rented would be something to think about.

The quality of the technology has only ever been a problem at one of the schools I worked at, with broken and outdated machines. I am currently working with students that have a mixture of laptop brands and operating system. For myself this is not really a problem, but I could see other teachers stumbling to fix things if they were unfamiliar with the OS.

Artifact(s)

Digital Divides

Digital Divides Bibliography (Additional materials below)

Research

Hudson, H. (2011). The digital divide. Instructor121(2), 46-50. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ945726.pdf

This article gives an overview of both the desire students have for more technology use in the classroom and the apprehension teachers have about students misusing it. It proposes that we need to build a well structured environment with clearly defined boundaries and then allow students the freedom to use what they find best suits their learning style. Lastly, it proposes that allowing students to bring and use their own devices at school could save districts money.

McGrath, M. (2011). Zeroing the divide: Promoting broadband use and media savvy in underserved communities. National Civic Review100(3), 24-28. Retrieved from                 http://web.ebscohost.com.dml.regis.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=70ff9225-5a12-42b7-            b435-00137924b31e@sessionmgr12&vid=2&hid=14

Michael  McGrath gives a look at broadband penetration within the United States, showing how in many areas, mostly rural, people are still not able to get speeds or reliability that would allow them to take advantage of what the internet has to offer. These areas are quickly falling behind in their ability to adapt in an ever changing technologically savvy world. They cite concerns with students not understanding how these innovations will affect them once they enter the job market. There is a push in many places to extend connectivity to these more rural areas in the hope that they will keep pace.

Sun, J., & Metros, S. (2011). The digital divide and its impact on academic performance. Online   Submission, US-China Education ReviewA(2), 153-161. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED524846.pdf

In this journal the authors pose the question of whether technology really improves academic performance, and whether, or to what extent, socio-economic factors limit their accessibility. Many institutions and schools are hesitant to implement technology use due to studies that have shown that the computers within public schools are used to the surf the internet more than they are for academic purposes. On the other hand, a study showed that training one-to-one shows quicker improvement, something a computer can simulate. The article’s conclusion finds that there is a socio-economic digital divide and that students in the lower areas are missing out on foundational skills in their use of technology, which can affect their career opportunities.

Morris, J. (2011). Digital bridge or digital divide? a case study review of the implementation of the       “computers for pupils programme” in a birmingham secondary school. Journal of Information            Technology Education10(IIP), 17-IIP. Retrieved from http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol10/JITEv10IIPp017-031Morris899.pdf

This article discusses how the digital divides is being addressed in Australia, and how in many cases there is too much of a focus on the hardware and software and not enough on the implementation. Schools and districts are getting initial funding for laptops and software without funding to maintain the machines or even the proper support staff to help teach them how to effectively use it.  When an area was rolled out with laptops for all students they would later find that nearly 50% of them were using the laptops almost wholly for leisure purposes. The cause of this stemmed from the staff not knowing how to effectively integrate it into their class.

“Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement. Working Paper 48.”National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. (2010): 48. Print. http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED511763.pdf

While access to computers and the internet at school has become relatively equalized across socio-economic borders, at home there is still a significant gap. Students from low-income areas have less access than others, which often makes their time at school not as fruitful as those who can hone their skills elsewhere. They also found that on standardized tests those students who have home computer and internet access scored 2% higher than those without. This measurement occurred within the same socio-economic demographic.

McCollum, S. (2011). Getting past the “digital divide”.Teaching Tolerance, (39), 46-49. Retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-39-spring-2011/getting-past-digital-divide

This is an article about how technology can be successfully integrated into the classroom. Specifically it deals with cell phones and laptops, giving numerous examples of how teachers have made this technology work for them instead of having to fight against it. The stipulate that students learn better when using these electronic devices because they are using familiar tools.

Standards – NETS Standards and 21st Century Skills

The NETS Standards for Teachers addressed in this artifact are:

– Demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations

– Evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning

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