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Framing the Issue of the Digital Divide in Education

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Latino Students and the Digital Divide (Part 2 of 2)

Latino Students and the Digital Divide (Part 2 of 2)

In part one, it was noted that Latinos in the United States are bridging the digital divide by getting internet access through smart phones.  As this connectivity increases, though, home broadband connectedness in Latino Households is actually decreasing.  This becomes an important issue for students as many districts throughout the U.S. are migrating to digital curriculum platforms.  As teachers are being trained and moving quickly towards an "all electronic format", it can be difficult for students with no broadband access to complete work in a timely manner.

This type of underconnectedness (mobile only and no paid broadband at home) limits the use and indeed the perception of the utility of the internet.  Parents without broadband often do not see broadband and a home computer as a necessity, even when that computer is provided by the school with a 1 to 1 initiative.  As a result, the types of higher level creative/collaborative activities and deep learning research that teachers are initiating with technology can put students who are underconnected at a distinct disadvantage.   The good news, perhaps, is that educators increasingly have opportunities to expose students to these types of activities at school, even when student skill sets are limited by lack of home use.  The challenge is to communicate consistently the importance of access and then to provide reasonable options to achieve access for families who are financially struggling.   When parents see home access as an important key to a successful academic career and become more familiar with using some of the powerful tools, the likelihood of connectedness will increase.  Latinos are bridging the digital divide through the rapid adoption of smart phones.  However, this "cell phone bridge" is not adequate enough to meet the demands of evolving educational opportunities that are growing throughout our country.


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