Digital Divide

Digital Divide The “Digital Define” is the distance between the people who have adequate access to technology and those who do not. As teachers, we have numerous avenues through which we can assist in narrowing the gap of the Digital Divide. Some suggestions are the following: 1. Gather teaching materials through sources such as: www.pbs.org/digitaldivide/about.html www.pbs.org/digitaldivide/learning.html www.siliconvallydigitaldivide.net www.ed.gov/free www.fcs.gov/resources.html 1-800-257-5126 2. Donate a computer, obtain a donated computer, or upgrade an obsolete one. Many organizations have been developed to assist in this task; a few are as follows: Share the Technology – www.sharetechnology.org Computers for Learning – www.computers.fed.gov NewDeal – www.newdealine.com Heaven – www.heavens.org 3. Keep informed about the most recent government initiatives, as well as what politicians and government officials have to say.

A variety of Web sites can aid you in this undertaking; some are listed here: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology – www.ed.gov/Technology Federal Communications Commission – www.fcc.gov.major.html Closing the Digital Divide – www.digitaldivide.gov The National Telecommunications and Information Administration – www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/contents.html The Digital Divide Network – www.digitaldividenetwork.org 4. Investigate the community access centers (CACs) in your area and spread the word about their availability. CACs include places such as libraries, community centers, schools, and other public-access locations. 5.

Learn about model initiatives – successful models. A few projects include: The Digital Divide Project – www.washington.edu/wto/digital/resources/html NetDay – www.netday.org Alliance for Community Technology – www.communitytechnology.org The Foundry – www.thefoundry.org The Village Foundation – www.villagefoundation.org/PROGRAMS/pathways/techno logy/index.html PowerUP: Bridging the Digital Divide – www.powerup.org The Maine Laptop Program Lightspan, Inc. – www.lightspan.com Plugged In – www.pluggedin.org Neighborhood Network – www.hud.gov/nnwnnwindex.html 6. Explore opportunities for corporate support. A good place to start is www.wested.org/tie/grant.html#corporate.

This site has a list of corporate and foundation funding sources and other grant related resources. The model initiative I chose to investigate is NetDay. NetDay is a project connecting students and their teachers in under-served communities with the necessary resources to facilitate learning through education technology. From this site, NetDay Compass is accessible. NetDay Compass is a teachers guide to educational technology resources. There are sections on developing technology plans, technology infrastructure, grant and funding, classroom support, and model high tech schools.

Here teachers will find the information they need to include technology in education and narrow the gap of the digital divide. In the three years I have been teaching in Louisiana, I have seen numerous incidents of digital divide. However, one particular incident stands out in my mind the most. Last year, I had a Financial Math class made up of mostly juniors and seniors. I had never really though about students not having access to the Internet or much less a computer.

We had just finished a unit on hiring expenses, when I decide to have the students complete a mock job search. I gave them a list of web sites and asked them to go home and find a job add and bring it back the next day. To my surprise, most of the student brought adds from the newspaper, which was perfectly fine, but it peaked my curiosity. I started inquiring why they had “clipped” the articles instead of “clicking” for them. Come to find out, only about of the 26 student class had access to the Internet away from school.

I was astonished. In addition, the students that had used the Internet to “job hunt” tended to bring in more professional type job interest as compared to the students who used the newspaper. Was this just a coincidence or are the students without Internet access limited in their employment opportunities? The conclusion I have reached scares me! Computers and Internet.

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