As a future educator living in a digital era, one of my main concerns is how to properly battle the “digital divide’ crisis. It is mostly affecting students from mid to low income families nationwide and can be detrimental to a child’s education. It was stated “33% of low and moderate families-and 50% of families below the poverty line-do not have home access to high-speed internet.” Luckily, I came across an article that gave me tips on how to “mitigate the effects of unequal internet access at home-while still maximizing the use of classroom technology in a strategic and effective way.”. Today I am going to share those tips with you (article link provided below)!
1) Be aware of your student’s technology background: This includes not only a student’s access to technology but also their experience and knowledge with it (and also their parents). Don’t make assumptions. Each student comes from a different background, take that into consideration. The article stated “…33% of families below the poverty line access the internet solely through a mobile device.” Only having access to the internet through a mobile device can make completing any digital/research project difficult. The article suggested doing a “Student Technology Access & Use Survey” at the beginning of the year so you are better able to determine your students’ access to technology.
2) Be conscious when creating lessons and assignments: If you chose to give at home online or research related assignments, make sure you provide students with alternative access to resources. “When creating a lesson with technology as an integral piece, be able to explain why that technology is an integral piece and—more importantly—how you are going to accommodate for students without home access.”
3) Teach digital literacy in your classroom: Each student has a different experience level when it comes to technology. Make sure to provide tutorials and conduct lessons on how to properly use the internet and digital resources (Word, Powerpoint, reliable sources, etc)
4) Make technology and internet access opportunities available: Provide time before, after, or during school for students to access computers to work on/complete assignments. The article suggests hosting a technology night where parents and students can get information and access to the internet. Provide other resources where internet access can be obtained (library, community center, etc)
5) Speak up: Be an advocate for getting students access and resources to technology. The article mentions the Kajeet SmartSpot, which is a hotspot that could be purchased by the school and loaned out to students on a need be basis. Apply for grants or look for alternative funding that could be used to purchase devices for your school.
In conclusion, there is no way to escape using technology in the classroom and there shouldn’t be a want to. Technology plays an important part in our society and as educators we should be proactively teaching our students how to be digitally literate. Just remember to always be mindful of students’ access to technology and be sure to provide them with alternative resources if you chose to give online assignments.
Sources: Wolohan, S. (2016, April 13). How Teachers Can Provide Equal Learning in a World of Unequal Access. Retrieved March 02, 2019, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-04-13-how-teachers-can-provide-equal-learning-in-a-world-of-unequal-access