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Framing the Issue of the Digital Divide in Education

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Digital Divide and Families: a group effort

The Digital Divide and Families:  a Group Effort

In households that don't have a culture of computer use, it is often children who teach their parents how to accomplish various tasks on the internet.   Given this reality, it is important to realize that integrating technology into schools end up extending far beyond the classroom.  One focus should be to encourage parents to become more computer literate.

Of course, encouraging computer literacy is one thing, but providing realistic opportunities is another. Some schools, for example, have offered technology learning nights for their parents.  Daycare and snacks are often provided, and the central focus is teaching parents about technology use (like how to check a student's attendance and academic progress on a computer) as well as teaching parents any relevant mobile phone apps that connect to the school.  Additionally, these evening courses at school focus on digital citizenship issues and some parenting norms around technology that parents might not have thought about as they didn't experience them when they grew up.

Given the fact that many students are teaching their parents about technology, it is of utmost importance that schools teach about digital citizenship.   Parents (especially those who haven't used a lot of technology) often assume that younger people are "just good at it" since they grew up with it.  However, this is not necessarily the case.  If schools explicitly teach digital citizenship and literacy ideas, student in turn can take these ideas back home.   If parents become more aware of some of the challenges around technology use in today's world, both parents and students can work together as a team when these challenges come up.  When it comes to bullying, meanness, privacy, digital footprints, passwords, etc., families that talk about these issues are much more able to actively deal with these issues when they come up.

In the end, schools  should consider offering opportunities for parents to learn after school hours as well as providing direct instruction on digital citizenship within classrooms.  These two strategies help when it comes to the "digital use and knowledge" divide that is found in many schools today.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! In my talks on digital citizenship/social media use that are meant to discuss how to help kids, many parents are realizing they don’t know themselves. An after hours night is a great idea.