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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Bridging the Digital Divide: A Presentation Tool

Helpful suggestions on how schools, communities, and parents can help narrow the gap.
By Aprille Ericsson-Jackson
Credit: NASA

Editor's Note: While much of the information in this article about Dr. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson's 1999 presentation is no longer current, it remains useful, with ideas and resources for addressing the digital divide that are still worth looking over. For more current information, visit our Digital Divide Resource Roundup.

Dr. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson is an aerospace engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the Guidance, Navigation and Control Center. She is committed to encouraging minorities and women to continue their studies in math, science, and engineering, and is a member of the NASA GSFC Speakers Bureau. In that capacity, she was asked to address the National School Boards Association's meeting in Dallas, Texas, on "Bridging the Digital Divide."

In her presentation, Ericsson-Jackson highlighted key findings from the Department of Commerce's 1999 report, "Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide," and suggested resources and action steps that school board members and parents, among others, can use in helping to bridge the digital divide as it affects their schools and communities.

With Ericsson-Jackson's help, we have added the entire presentation to our online resources to help support conversations and action around bridging the digital divide. We invite you to share the information in your community.

Following are excerpts from Ericsson-Jackson's presentation, "Bridging the Digital Divide," delivered at the National School Boards Association Conference in Dallas, Texas, on November 12, 1999.

Key Findings

"Overall, the report, 'Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide,' found that the number of Americans connected to the nation's information infrastructure is soaring."

"At the same time, however, the report found that there is still a significant 'digital divide' separating American information 'haves' and 'have nots.' Indeed, in many instances the digital divide has widened in the last year. Minorities, low-income persons, the less educated, and children of single-parent households, particularly those residing in rural areas or central cities, are among the groups that lack access to information resources."

Recommended Resources

Action Steps

Following are recommended action steps school board members, parents, and others can take:

  • Review your school's technology plan
  • Join a school committee
  • Become a webmaster or offer technical support
  • Pull some wire
  • Help generate funds
  • Donate equipment or contact federal work sites for excess equipment donations
  • Understand the big picture
  • Adopt a school

Download Instructions

Download Ericsson-Jackson's PowerPoint® presentation on Bridging the Digital Divide. There are twenty-two slides in the presentation; the script for each slide is in the "notes" page for that slide, which you can access by selecting "view" from the PowerPoint menu bar, then selecting "notes page." Please note, this presentation is more than ten years old; not all embedded links will work, and statistics and Census figures are from 1999.

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