For this assignment, I learned about the digital divide and digital inequality. Although I had thought about the issue of “haves” and “have-nots” as it relates to my classroom, school, and district, I had never considered the global issues. It was interesting to see how quickly internet access has spread, especially in developing countries, since the development of mobile technology. Even as a classroom teacher, I had not considered the issues of digital inequality. I had a vague notion in my mind that since my students were using social media and researching online, they were “haves” when it came to access and skill. However, after reading about digital inequality, I recognized that my students really don’t have any technological skills. They know how to play with technology, but not how to utilize it to move ahead in life.
In the future, I plan to incorporate technology use more heavily into my instruction. For a few years, I have had a fuzzy plan rolling around in my mind to use student blogs in my classroom. Although I still have not figured out how to maintain security for my students, they are 12 and 13 years-old, I plan to have them blog about their experiences at school, both academic experiences and extra-curricular experiences.
To complete this assignment, I used Google Docs, Google Slides, and Voice Thread. Although I don’t love Google Slides, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to use it. At home, many of my students do not have access to PowerPoint, so it is useful to know how to use Google Slides. I can have my students use Slides at school and then convert to PowerPoint at home if they wish to embellish their presentations further. I enjoyed using Voice Thread. I have never used anything like it before. I liked that I could record more than one comment for each slide and that Voice Thread would stitch them together for me. It allowed me to catch my breath and advance my presentation notes to keep up.
If I had more time, I would solicit suggestions from my coworkers for how to deal with the digital inequality issues at our school. As a part of my school’s tech team, I would like to find workable solutions to our school access issues as well as encourage teachers to incorporate more technology use into their curriculum. When people are part of creating the solution, they are more likely to buy into changes, like incorporating student technology use into their lessons.
One difficulty I had completing this assignment was the sheer volume of reading material. The reading wasn’t the problem, but finding facts I had marked was. Several articles were only available as html pages, so I could not download them to my computer or iPad and highlight as I read. I tried importing them into Diigo, but that didn’t help either. Normally I don’t have a problem finding information I am looking for because I remember where it was located on a page and how far through a document or book that page was located. However, without the visual clues to rely on, it was very difficult to find statistics and quotes I thought I remembered. Interestingly, as I was working on this assignment, a friend shared an article on Facebook that addresses this very issue: Science Has Great News for People Who Read Actual Books. Unfortunately, the author of the article did not include a link to, or citation of, the original study.