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Framing the Issue of the Digital Divide in Education

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Latino Immigrants and the Digital Divide

Reframing How Educators Approach
Latino Immigrants and Technology Use

A recent discussion from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center focused on the challenges of technology integration and use in Latino immigrant families.   It is not surprising that lower income families have less access to technology and home broadband.  When families have to choose between a cell phone and a broadband bill, it seems logical that the cell phone would almost always win out.  With that said, though, it is notable that Latino immigrant families are especially vulnerable when it comes to having access.  This lack of access has serious implications as schools across the country move to digital curriculum and learning management systems that require home access for a student's success.

Additionally, many Latino immigrant parents lack experience with technology and don't necessarily have a "culture of technology" in the household.  Immigrant Latino parents have less technology experience than other groups.  Only 40% feel confident in using the internet and 45% have been online for five years or less.  Amidst these statistics, though, there is emerging a positive trend:  Latino parents are making technology purchases for their children's education at an increasing rate.

Latino immigrant families are prioritizing the purchase of technology as it relates to their children.  Great income disparities hinder the drive for digital equity for students, and some subgroups like Latino immigrants tend to have less experience with technology.  With that said, the trend to try to purchase technology to aid in their children's education is definitely of note.  It has implications for programs and districts who are increasing technology purchases and implementation.  Harnessing the desire of Latino immigrant parents to integrate technology is a key to ensuring student growth and success.  When schools and parents work together to address nuanced issues relating to the digital divide, the chance for student success increases greatly.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Complexity of Problems and Solutions

Nuanced Issues and Approaches

Millions of students cannot do their homework as they don't have access to home broadband internet.  A few years back, it seemed that devices were a primary issue.  Devices are still an issue in many districts, but the a shift to 1 to 1 devices in school district is gaining momentum.   Some students might have a computer issued to them but still lack home access.  Some students (especially in rural areas) don't have any possibility of access.  Here is an interesting two interesting statistics that speak to the problem of the homework gap:

  • As many as 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires access to broadband, but one in three households do not subscribe to broadband service

  • More than half of principals nationwide now cite digital equity as a major challenge in their schools.
The video below is a panel discussion that features Jessica Rosenworcel, a member of the FCC.  The discussion helps outline both the complexity of the problem and the complexity of the solution.  In reality, there are several problems operating all at once which require different solutions.