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Digital divide and digital equity coming back? WIth funding, with minorities involved?

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  • BBracey@aol.com
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2008
      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.

      1.Technology resources
      Access to learning technology resources (hardware, software, wiring and
      2.Quality content
      Access to high quality digital content

      3.Culturally responsive content
      Access to high quality, culturally relevant content

      4.Effective use
      Educators skilled in using these resources effectively for teaching and

      5.Content creation
      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
      Emirates University.

      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
      State University.

      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.
      'Thrashing around'
      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
      software movement.

      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
      broadband strategy.

      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
      United States.
      "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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