Once More Into the Breach: How to Cross the Digital Divide?

This one is tough, dear reader.  One real problem in Classroom 2.0 is a lack of access equity to the technology that fuels it.

Education Week: Digital Divide 2.0.

The sucker punch comes at the end of the article…

Gaps in Use

Arguing that technology has posed particular educational and social problems for disadvantaged children, Rousseau sketched a history of what she sees as technology’s negative impact on African-Americans—sweeping the cotton gin, the Cadillac automobile, movies and television, the boom box, the iPod, and drill-and-practice software—into her analysis.

“As much as I admire technology, … it has a mixed history in the way it has impacted our lives,” said Rousseau, who is African-American.

And she pointed to contemporary technology—including TV, video games, the Web, and educational software—as reinforcing a cultural “construct” of race, class, and gender that she contends sets limitations for the academic achievement of disadvantaged children. “The issue isn’t all technology,” she said, “yet in this day, it has everything to do with technology.”

In today’s schools, Rousseau said, low-income children of color too often are using educational software that has them engage in skill-and-fact drills rather than in creative, “constructivist” experiences more often available to white and middle-class children.

Her point resonated with Crystal, the technology-integration coach from Hartford.

He says school districts are spending their educational technology budgets on “drill and kill” tools because of the overwhelming pressure to meet federal requirements for test performance under the No Child Left Behind law.

“The focus on NCLB is like just looking at the blue threads in a tapestry; you don’t see that [student achievement] is a manifestation of lots of other areas,” Crystal says. Without a broader focus and more creative tools, disadvantaged students miss out on important learning modes, such as cooperative learning and sharing ideas with others, he argues.

Not all educators agree that drill technology is bad; some say that with powerful data-collection systems and a focus on key building blocks of learning, drilling students is a valuable use of technology. That perspective, however, was not voiced at the Atlanta summit.

So what to do as educators?  Is there a false choice being peddled here on advancing technology in the classroom vs. focusing on the underlying social disadvantages many students face?  Or is there a third way yet to be properly articulated?

Education Week: Digital Divide 2.0.

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1 Comment

Filed under Educational Technology, School Leadership

One response to “Once More Into the Breach: How to Cross the Digital Divide?

  1. Pingback: Flipping Without Flopping | Contretemps

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