Digital equity

As I work to conceptualize the educational technology course I’m teaching this fall, I began to wonder about issues of technology access and use. My life experiences tell me that someone’s age, gender, social class, race, and geographic location are all factors that might affect an individual’s ability to access digital technologies and how they use the technologies that are available to them. I soon happened upon the term “digital equity” used by ISTE and others to describe a specific commitment to fair access, mostly. The following link is ISTE’s policy brief about digital equity:

http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Professional_Development/Programming_at_NECC/Summits1/20078/Digital_Equity_Summit/national-consideration-DE.pdf

I still have a lot of learning and critical reflection to do about the ideas that have been termed “digital equity,” but I think that this iPad pilot has already helped me to understand my privilege, specifically related to my access to digital technologies.

Today I was delighted to see the following article on my NPR app. The article suggests that mobile technologies may be leveling the playing field for some African-Americans and Hispanics. I thought I would share it in case anyone else is interested in the intersections of our identities and our technologies.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/tellmemore/2010/07/21/128674384/a-digital-revolution-in-the-palm-of-your-hand?sc=ipad&f=1019

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About Leslie Gates

I like colors without names.
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3 Responses to Digital equity

  1. coryarts says:

    Great comments Leslie. One of the most convincing factors in my mind for offering our teachers iPads is that in some small way we may be addressing this gap.

  2. I have been exploring this topic related to a course I am taking regarding social justice and technology. Specifically I have been looking at tablets (the iPad included) as well as mobile technologies and issues of education/access. One of the most interesting things I have found has been the lack of internet/broadband in American homes: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2010/07/duncan_announces_creation_of_n.html. Also, the number of households with children purchasing apps is on the rise. There are also new studies coming out that show huge advances in the development of children’s skills through the use of some educational apps. It makes me think about equity issues since some children in households are exploring apps to learn while others don’t even have internet access. Access to technology is a very big concern in the IT world right now because as more tools that arise and more people gain access, others are in the dark. I have been reading a lot lately about the growing digital divide and what this means when considering our economy as well as competition with other countries like Ireland and Australia who have more equitable distributions of tech stuff in all the schools. Ireland for example has videoconferencing equipment in all of the schools. One of the other things that I am learning is that it is important to have leadership plans in place when approaching the issue of digital equity.

    My other concern is that many art teachers (who already don’t have access to technologies/internet/equipment/support) do not have adequate technologies to support teaching 21st century skills to children… Many also seem to be totally unaware of 21st century skills and the national technology standards that contain important items that the arts can address. It is very disconcerning to me that the digital divide between the “haves” and “halve nots” is becoming greater as many schools are focusing on other content areas to boost standardized testing scores. Now more than ever art teachers now really have to be diligent in seeking out tech resources and supports… Especially in a climate where schools are prioritizing tech purchases and seeking grants as a quick fix to improve reading and math scores. It would be interesting to see digital equity studies related to tech grants/purchases and content areas within schools.

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