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Framing the Issue of the Digital Divide in Education

Monday, January 9, 2017

Rich Teenager, Poor Teenager: Uses and Opportunities

Rich Teenager, Poor Teenager:  Uses and Opportunities

When addressing the digital divide in U.S. education, it becomes clear rather quickly that there are many divides.  These include economic, rural/urban, ethnicity, geography, and even skill levels and opportunities.  What is exactly meant by this? 


As more students gain access via cellphones, the number of broadband internet subscribers at home is actually declining.  Families that have to choose between cell phone access and broadband access overwhelmingly choose cell phones as they provide an important family communication tool.  

Generally, poor students are much less likely to have home internet access in comparison to peers.  This is really not surprise, but it does have implications for what types of digital skills students are actually learning.  Students who don't come from a home where there is a culture of internet use are more likely to see the internet as a mode for gaming or social media and not as much for research, news, and/or creative production.   The graphic below shows an international computer use survey as it relates to students and their economic status.  

The implications, of course, are important for educators.  The broader culture often makes sweeping generalizations about the proficiency of young people vs. older people with respect to computers.   Proficiencies in digital literacy and critical thinking can vary widely among students in the same classroom.  In the end, educators play a key role in conducting formative assessments with each class as a "digital divide" of skills has emerged based mostly on economic lines.

More discussion on student family wealth and how it relates to computer skills and assumptions can be found at https://goo.gl/Rz9IST

1 comment:

  1. This is another solid piece of insight about disparities that exist that many simply overlook. I think Betsy DeVose will have wonderful solutions... not.