Participation and the digital divide – who misses out?

The many factors that contribute to the digital divide (Newblogone, 2012).
The many factors that contribute to the digital divide (Newblogone, 2012).

 

When I think about the term “digital divide”, I imagine it to mean the divide between younger generations and older generations. However, the readings and videos from week 4 have clarified that the term “digital divide” actually refers to those who have access to digital technologies, and those who do not (Howell, 2012). This is not specific to a particular generation as I originally thought, but relates to the socio-economic status of families (Howell, 2012). While some families may be able to provide their children with the latest technologies and access to the internet, other children are not as fortunate, meaning students are participating in an unequal digital world (Howell, 2012).

 

Some children are fortunate to have access to different types of technologies at home. (My own image).
Some children are fortunate to have access to different types of technologies at home. (My own image).

 

So, how can schools ensure that all students have equal learning opportunities with technology? This is the thought that led me to investigate outside of the provided readings. Some schools provide tablets to their students for $100 per year (Johnson, 2015). But this is of little help if the student has no internet access at home. Johnson (2015) suggests that schools should expand internet access during school hours, adjust homework so that digital materials can be accessed on iPads or laptops without the need for internet, and inform students and their parents of local community spaces such as libraries and YMCA’s that provide free wi-fi.

 

This video (TEDx talks, 2014) discusses the importance of libraries bridging the digital divide, and corresponds with Johnson’s (2015) suggestion of our students utilising community spaces to access technology that is not available at home

 

This topic has opened my eyes to the importance of digital technologies in schools. As a teacher I will be expected to be able to provide students the opportunity to learn with digital technologies – to bridge the gap between what parents can afford to provide at home, and what my students expect and deserve to be learning in regards to technology (Howell, 2012). I look forward to learning more about the wide varieties of digital teaching resources available that will assist me in my future teaching career.

 

References

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Johnson, D. (2015). Helping to close the digital divide. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb15/vol72/num05/Helping-to-Close-the-Digital-Divide.aspx

New Blog One. (2012). The digital divide [Image]. Retrieved from http://newblogoneitg.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/the-digital-divide.html

TEDx talks. (2014, May 14). Get a read on this: libraries bridging the digital divide. Andrew Roskill at TEDx Charlston. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J198u5HK0pY

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