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Digital Dilemmas

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Ariel Sacks of On the Shoulders of Giants is having trouble with the “digital divide” between students who have internet at home and those who don’t. She and the special ed teacher in her classroom took a lot of time to record themselves reading Nancy Farmer’s The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm to help students struggling with the reading. Then they posted the MP3 of themselves on Multiply.com, a social networking site. The problem was many students couldn’t participate because 1) they don’t have internet access at home and 2) the site was inaccessible from the school due to filtering.

Sacks doesn’t see this as a huge impediment just yet. Her kids will just have to read their assignments the old fashioned way. But she thinks the problem will grow as time goes on.

This divide is going to become more and more painful. I'd like to see the government step in and make internet free for parents who send their children to public schools, and provide a laptop—or an easy, affordable pathway to getting one—for all public school students. Once this is the case, schools need to get with the times and create safe and attractive networking programs for teachers and classes to use.
9 Comments

They tried the laptop thing in Cobb Co. GA but it failed due to expense and the fact it is unsupported by research. Why not get all the kids an eReader and a bunch of books instead? Or just a bunch of books? I know the price of laptops will come down, but I would still like to see research backing up the efficacy of this over voluminous reading.

For the population of kids with disabilities couldn't this be considered Assistive Technology and provided as a service through the IEP? The price of laptops is coming down--and there are models that have hard cases and built to take more wear and tear than the average business model.

I would also think that in this time of very short budgets all around that schools should be considering partnerships with public library systems--many of whom have done a very good job of computer literacy, from providing access to PCs to digital books.

What an interesting situation. I am an Indiana University Student and am currently involved with an Early Field Experience course where I assist a third/fourth grade language arts teacher. Computer assisted learning is really booming as an educational tool, but the school I am assisting at is really in a economically challenged area; not many of the children have home computer access. I appreciate the idea of "considering partnerships with local libraries." I will certainly keep my ear to the ground in hopes of coming up with ideas to eliminate this problem.

While I believe that providing a laptop and home internet access to all students would be a wonderful idea. I think that the money could be better spent else where. Eduducation is always in need of improvement. I would rather see money be put back into the school. If the teacher has more technology devices in the classroom, more students would get exposure and you would not have to rely on technology in the home. I do not believe that the goverment should support this enourmous task of trying to provide internet to everyone. We should be investing in technology in the classrooms not individual homes.

I agree that the government should not be investing in providing the internet to everyone in their homes, however it would be a good idea for them to put money towards better techonology in schools. I currently assist in a school where there are hardly any computers or advanced technology. I think that the schools should do more to teach students about technology and allow them to have a hands on experience inside the school.

I agree that schools SHOULD spend more on technology in the classroom and funding for more computers. However, most schools who are in need of this funding (and by now haven't gotten new techonolgy)most likely cannot. The money they have goes to funding for textbooks and other things in the classroom. It's not about not wanting to upgrade their technology, they simply cannot.

I understand most schools who already don't have the technology, don't have the extra money to fund it, I thought maybe this is the type of case when the government should step in.

I'm working at a school with a group of sixth graders who have just had their computer lab redone. Not only are there new computers, but the computers and projectors the teachers are using are new as well. This makes technology a bigger part of the classroom.

Have you noticed any changes in the student's learning patterns? I'm currently working on a project for my educational psychology class and we are looking at the ways in which technology like educational games and other online applications help students learning.

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