Digital divide and digital equity coming back? WIth funding, with minorities involved?
- I think that there are ground truth people involved in the struggle for equal
schools who are not from Harvard, but who have talents and experience that
would benefit the Obama admininstration . I wasn't fortunate enough to go to
Harvard, but I have experts to offer.
What is digital equity? Does it exist? Do our Students have 21st Century
Skills in all Schools? This is a report on a summit that Joyce Pittman and I
created for ISTE last summer. It made Top News today. December 30th. See what our
experts had to say. Then check out the Edutopia articles that reflect ground
truth. Another expert who would be welcomed back is Andy Carvin.
The Five Dimensions of Digital Equity
If you are just beginning to learn about this field then these categories
should help you address your basic needs.
Access to learning technology resources (hardware, software, wiring and
Access to high quality digital content
3.Culturally responsive content
Access to high quality, culturally relevant content
Educators skilled in using these resources effectively for teaching and
Opportunities for learners and educators to create their own content
I have issues!!!
For the last eight years, when I talked about digital equity, most people
cast a blind eye, and certainly no funding was sent to help for the cause.
Officially, there was no such thing as the digital divide according to the Bush
doctrine. We all know that was not true, but the official word was that there was
no problem. Andy Carvin went away, the Digital Divide Network lost funding.
Officially we were dead. Well , we are back in ideology anyway.
There were even fake reporters who were paid ( money that should have gone to
other places) to defend this nonsense. Well we are back. We did a symposium
in Austin Texas, which E School News has just published the results of. I
created with my team, this summit. Note that is it now ok to talk about digital
equity. Let's hooe that some of the people involved in the long struggle to
defend and explain digital equity will be involved in the conversations. Let's also
insist that the people who talk about it are qualified by experience and work
Bonnie Bracey Sutton
Digital Equity Sig Chair, ISTE
Digital Equity Sig CoChair SITE
The E School News reports last summer's Digital Equity Summit which Joyce
Pittman and I created.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 Date of the article
Educators wrestle with digital-equity challenges
Mon, Jul 07, 2008 Date of the Summit
Educators wrestle with digital-equity challenges
Summit addresses key question: How to ensure access to digital learning
opportunities for all students
By Dennis Pierce, Managing Editor, eSchool News
Primary Topic Channel: 21st Century skills
Equitable access is still a challenge in the U.S.
Despite gains in the number of households that are online and the number of
computing devices in the hands of students, making sure all learners have
equitable access to technology resources continues to be a challenge in the United
States and worldwide, said panelists at a recent summit.
"We've made a lot of progress, but we've got a lot more work to do," said
Link Hoewing, vice president of internet and technology policy for Verizon
Communications. Hoewing was speaking at a Digital Equity Summit held July 1 at the
National Educational Computing Conference in San Antonio, Texas, where
participants discussed ways to close the gaps between those who have easy access to
digital tools and resources and those who don't.
Students who lack this access to technology are at a disadvantage, ed-tech
advocates say, because they are missing out on opportunities to learn and to
become participants in an increasingly digital workforce and society.
At the summit, panelists shared the latest research on digital inequities in
the United States and abroad, as well as possible solutions. One thing they a
greed on was that the nature of the problem appears to be changing--and policy
makers and education leaders must expand how they view and respond to this
challenge in turn.
Thanks to a program in Brazil through which the government offers
special-finance loans for people to buy computers, an estimated 36 million Brazilian
children reportedly will be using Linux-based machines by the end of this year.
Low-cost laptops such as Intel's Classmate PC and the One Laptop Per Child
Foundation's XO computer have reached nearly a million students worldwide. And
cell-phone use in Africa has exploded in the last few years; coupled with the
convergence in wireless devices, this trend has important implications for
students in developing countries.
Yet, while there are many more digital devices now available to students,
there seems to be a narrowing of the content they can use, said Joyce Pittman,
director of the Center for Learning and Teaching with Technology at United Arab
Paul E. Resta, director of the University of Texas at Austin's Learning
Technology Center, framed the digital-equity challenge as one of providing not
just technologies, but "digital opportunities," for students.
"The digital divide is traditionally defined in terms of internet access,"
he said, "but it is really part of a broader divide that contributes to the
social and economic exclusion of people."
Resta listed six things that he called "essential conditions" for digital
inclusion: (1) basic literacy skills; (2) access to information and
communications technology (ICT) devices, software, and connectivity; (3) access to
culturally relevant content in the student's local language; (4) the ability to
create, share, and exchange digital content; (5) access to educators who know how
to use digital tools and resources in pedagogically sound ways; and (6) access
to effective leadership in policy and planning.
In other words, closing the so-called digital divide is about much more than
providing access to computers and the internet, he said; it's about providing
all the opportunities for learning that technology affords.
"The digital divide helps widen an even more alarming problem," Resta
said--"the knowledge divide."
There are significant efforts under way to provide access not just to
digital tools and devices, but also to digital content. The emergence of open
educational resources, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's
OpenCourseWare project, and the rapid growth of digital libraries such as Google's
book-scanning project are a few examples.
Yet, the amount of digital content that is available only in English is
still overwhelming. Eighty percent of the web sites on the internet are in
English, but only 10 percent of the world's population understands English, said
Laura Sujo de Montes, educational technology program coordinator for New Mexico
Besides needing content that is easily accessible, students and families on
the wrong side of the digital divide also need training in how to use
technology tools and resources.
Ashanti Jefferson, technology integration senior analyst for the Chicago
Public Schools (CPS), talked about a program in her district that addresses this
need. CPS has teamed up with Intel Corp. to offer free technology literacy
tutorials that are available online in multiple languages through a low-bandwidth
internet connection. These free tutorials work on multiple computing
platforms and include resources for parents as well as students, Jefferson said.
Even though a growing number of students now have access to computers,
software, and the internet both in the United States and abroad, there is still a
great deal of work to be done in this area, too, panelists said.
Computer refurbishing programs are helping to reduce digital inequities
worldwide, Resta said--the top 1,000 companies in the world have an estimated 70
million machines they are trying to dispose of--and so is the open-source
Any company that develops proprietary software that works only on a single
platform "is serving the platform, not the student," said David Thornburg,
founder and director of the Thornburg Center, which helps schools deliver
inquiry-driven, project-based instruction in science, math, and technology.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) has a goal of connecting villages, schools, hospitals, and libraries to the
internet, ensuring than at least half of the world's population has access to
modern technology by 2015, Resta said. But one of the key challenges to this
effort is the cost of broadband services.
Resta showed a graphic that indicated the average annual cost of broadband
service is only 2 percent of the total income for high-income populations--yet
it's more than 900 percent of the annual income for low-income populations.
And though the average per-capita income of families in the United States
far exceeds that of families in developing nations, the challenge of bringing
broadband internet access into homes isn't limited to the rest of the world.
Sujo de Montes showed a slide listing the characteristics of those affected
by the global digital divide: they typically live in rural areas, are
uneducated, and many are unskilled laborers. "Don't these criteria apply to the poor
in America?" she asked, to great applause.
Resta noted that the United States has fallen to 15th in broadband
penetration among industrialized nations, according to rankings compiled by the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development--down from fourth in 2001.
He said most countries have set a goal of universal broadband service, much
like electricity, telephone service, or any other utility. But in the United
States, "we really don't have much of a [national] policy--we're thrashing
around," Resta said, and it's incumbent on educators to help push for a national
Verizon's Hoewing described the efforts his company is making to ensure that
all students have equitable access to high-speed internet service.
New developments in fiber-optic technology now give internet providers the
ability to bend fiber lines into an "L" shape without interfering with how
light waves travel along the lines, Hoewing said--which has important implications
for delivering fiber-optic service to city apartments and other hard-to-wire
Verizon also aims to reach traditionally underserved populations by offering
broadband wireless to people's cell phones. The company's EV-DO service now
reaches an estimated 228 million people, Hoewing said.
He noted that 82 percent of Americans now own a cell phone, and there is not
much of a gap in cell-phone use among racial demographics: 74 percent of
white Americans, 71 percent of African-Americans, and 84 percent of Hispanics
reportedly own phones. And even faster "4G" wireless service should be available
by 2010, he said.
Still, new research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggests
that attitude, rather than availability, might be the main reason more
Americans don't have high-speed internet access. (See accompanying story: "Study: Many
dial-up users don't want broadband.")
Hoewing acknowledged that convincing some families to subscribe to broadband
service is a key challenge. He said he's heard from some parents that they're
not online because they're afraid of the dangers lurking on the web. In
response to these concerns, he said, Verizon now offers free online protection
tools for families.
He also agreed that cost is still an issue for many families, even in the
"We have to do a better job of bundling and packaging our services," he
said. "The basic price of broadband might be affordable--but when you add to that
the cost of telephone and cable service, it's too much for some people."
Links: active here
There are really good comments too from real teachers.
Learning Technology Center, University of Texas at Austin
CPS/Intel Technology Literacy Project
Editor's note: For other recent stories on broadband access and digital
equity, see the following:
New group wants to make broadband a national priority
SETDA urges schools to boost bandwidth
Star Wars creator pushes free internet service for schools
Municipal broadband projects under attack
Report urges U.S. to think 'big' about broadband
Administration: Broadband goal nearly reached
The Digital Promise Project: Using Technology to Transform Education ...
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