Digital Divide

Reading the “Born Digital” one of the issues that I am concerned about with my students is the fact that there “is the huge divide it’s opening between the haves and have nots” (p.14). Palfrey and Gasser talk about this divide between countries. Countries like the United States and Japan are more likely to have access to the internet and to technology. There are many people in the United States who do have access to the internet and computers but that is not true of everyone. I think this is a common assumption that everyone has access to these things because it seems to be everywhere. I live and work on a reservation. Not everyone here has internet or cable because of where they live or they cannot afford it. One of the teachers, at my school, made a comment that if students could not work on their presentations for his class at school they can do it at home. A paraprofessional had to remind him that not all the students on the reservation have computers or internet.

For some of my students, school might be the only place that they can get access to the internet. If they are given assignments that involve the computer in someway, they are only going to be able to get this assignment done at school. This means that as a librarian, I have to make sure that my students have access to the resources they need to be successful. One of the issues I have is that filters on the school computers are sometimes too strong. I wanted to show teachers the glog I made for this class but I could not because the filters would not allow me to access that site. I think that the filters sometimes make it hard for us to use free tools on the internet. I think it would be cool if I could help my students make glogs. I see so many cool websites to use at library school but I cannot access them because of the filters.

Even through they may not have the technology at home, it is important for us to make sure their skills stay strong. At my school, we have a very good computer teacher and he is able to show them how to do different things. As a librarian, I think I need to work with him to make sure students are working on their information gathering skills. My students use Google but they do not know how to judge the information that Google provides. We can work together to teach them how to read the information. Palfrey and Gasser talk about telling the difference between good information and bad information . People can post whatever they want and is not always true. My students have to learn how to tell the differences between good and bad information.

I look at my students and a lot of them seem to understand how to use a computer but I am not sure how strong those skills really are. I worry about the fact that they only have a few places where they can access computers and the internet. That place puts a limit on how much information they have access to. I understand why we have filters but sometimes I feel like too much is filter out. I just want to make sure that I can provide a place where students can get the information that they need. I can help them with what they need to be successful.

Palfrey, J. and Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York, NY: Basic Books

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mary Ann
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 17:46:59

    I used to teach in a rural community. I did a research with online teens in that community. One of my participants had access problems in that she had access at home but it was dial up, she had no high speed. When you are sharing your art work online this is a problem. She figured out a way around it but it made me super sensitive to the fact that rural communities and schools are often overlooked when we talk about needs and access issue. I tend to think the participation gap is the greater problem but when you get into rural areas, particularly poor rural areas there is no doubt access is a problem. It isn’t just that they don’t have it at home but the opportunities beyond home are limited as well. In urban and suburban areas there are any number of after school programs and organizations serving youth. That is restricted in rural communities. We have a great digital media after school program here but you still have to be able to get to the town it is in – if you live “over the hill” or “in the valley” it just isn’t going to happen. You have to catch the bus at the end of the school day if you are going to get home. That is another thing – transportation issues – that restrict access since you may HAVE to go home at the end of the day. It is stunning how much issues like this are overlooked by policy makers in dealing with poor rural communities (and reservations).

    Reply

    • sjv1983
      Dec 01, 2012 @ 02:42:32

      I agree. Transportation is an issue on my reservation. A lot of parents are not able to pick up their children after school and they have to trust the bus to get them home. Some of the children are on the bus for a long time. They might get out of school at 3:20 but they might not be home until after 5:00 depending on where they live and how far it is from school. That is a long day.

      Then there are not a lot of places where there is free WiFi on the reservation. I think you have to go to McDonald’s in town to get that. We just got a new computer lab open to the community at the tribal college. Hopefully, some of my students will be able to use that. I am not sure how welcoming they are to children. I do not know if the local boys and girls clubs have computers that the kids can use.

      Reply

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