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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Have we forgotten about the digital divide?

Have we forgotten about the digital divide?

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Many make the assumption that students can just pick up a computer and use the tool as though it was natural. The digital divide exists. Community member and educator Katherine Judd states that students in rural areas do not have the technological experience. Plus she cites that only 35% - 40% have internet technology at home.

How can educators and parents address the digital divide at schools and in homes? Can we reform education without addressing the lack of technology in homes and in schools? What are your thoughts?

"I refer to the selective disregard for basic facts in regard to using technology in education reform. I could go on all day about this but allow me to state my views in two categories: 1)the current misapprehension that ALL people, students or otherwise, have some type of internet technology in the home, and 2) ALL people know how to USE that technology! I cannot begin to number the students who have come to me in tears because they cannot use the technology required. I spend nine tenths of my time in a computer lab explaining HOW the technology works, not the technology or the software, mind you, but BASIC computer knowledge, which, by the way, is NOT provided in basic introductory computer courses. We CANNOT continue to reform education with technology while ignoring two basic TRUE facts: 1) For most people, if the technology is beyond "point and click," they are LOST, and 2) despite what we hear every day in the media, only about 35-40% of the American public have internet technology in the home. The "facts" we continue to hear are based on urban areas where access and reasonable cost are available. I teach students from rural areas who become quickly frustrated by instructors who assume all students "know" the technology; after all, the schools provide it, so why don't they know it?"

"Again, I could go on all day! This misapprehension has a direct bearing on student retention and success. I cannot be the only teacher who has faced this problem and been told "not to worry about it...it's the students' responsibility to know the technology." Granted, but HOW do they learn if no one will teach them? I strongly feel this issue needs to be addressed at all levels. Ideas? Comments?"

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Katherine Judd

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