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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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School Is Starting: What's Different?

A new school year has begun or will begin very soon. What will be different in your school this year? Will the students be blogging? Student conversations on the Internet are growing in huge numbers. Podcasts are engaging not only students but also teachers and administrators. Students are using their voices as well as their pens to publish.

School is Starting. What's Different?

The Education Podcast Network has a variety of podcasts for students in grades K-12 and for all curricular areas. Wikis provide an opportunity for students to collaborate on projects, sharing information and data with one another. Online chatting between students in various parts of the world increases global awareness, especially through video chatting. With a camera built in to Apple's new MacBook and MacBook Pro, initiating a video chat is as easy as clicking the mouse. Employing these Web 2.0 tools, students may use a variety of learning styles and communicate using twenty-first-century tools.

Is your school district allowing this to happen, or are the ports blocked?

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Bonnie Bracey Sutton's picture
Anonymous (not verified)
Many more white students use the Internet than do Hispanic and black students, a reminder that going online is hardly a way of life for everyone. Two of every three white students - 67 percent - use the Internet, but fewer than half of blacks and Hispanics do, according to federal data released yesterday. For Hispanics the figure is 44 percent; for blacks, it is 47 percent. "This creates incredible barriers for minorities," said Mark Lloyd, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and an analyst on how communications influence civil rights. Not using the Internet "narrows their ability to even think about the kind of work they can be doing," Lloyd said. "It doesn't prepare them for a world in which they're going to be expected to know how to do these things." The new data come from the National Center for Education Statistics, an arm of the Department of Education. They are based on a national survey of households in 2003. Overall, 91 percent of youngsters in nursery school through 12th grade use computers; 59 percent use the Internet. Within those numbers, the digital divide among groups is a national concern. Studies have shown that access and ability to use the Internet help improve people's learning, job prospects and daily living. Virtually all U.S. schools are connected to the Internet. The gaps in Internet use between whites and minorities, though sizable, are smaller during the school day. What the use is of the connectivity in the schools and how the technology is used is a whole different conversation. Nationally, the digital divide has been pushed to the back burner and dismissed as no longer relevant as a problem. But the world of technology is ever changing and even if the school has Internet access, we who study technology know that there are new waves of technology, as in parallel computing, as in global grid, as in teragrid that will change the face of computing. We could even ask, if the students have media literacy, so that when they receive messages they are able to evaluate. A lot of minority students won't be blogging , or logging in from home. There is a disconnect. Bonnie
Arlyss's picture
Anonymous (not verified)
Ms Landos says, in part: "Online chatting between students in various parts of the world increases global awareness, especially through video chatting. With a camera built in to Apple's new MacBook and MacBook Pro, initiating a video chat is as easy as clicking the mouse. Employing these Web 2.0 tools, students may use a variety of learning styles and communicate using twenty-first-century tools. Is your school district allowing this to happen, or are the ports blocked? " Ports for any kind of instant messaging are blocked in many school systems, or at least the IM websites are blocked. I also agree with Bonnie: More white students than black or Hispanic students have computers available to them at home. One may also add that, the white students that DO have computers are usually middle and upper class. Are there any statistics concerning poor whites? I would venture to say that most lower income families, regardless of race, do not have such things available at home. This is as much an economic issue as a racial one, though larger percentages of minority families are poor than white. However, I have noticed, when I visit our public library, that there are always not only black children, but entire families gathered around the computers. This is a good sign, that although they may not be able to afford to have one at home, famlies realize the value of educating themselves and their children concerning the use of technology. It takes a great deal more effort than if one has a computer at home. But, at the same time, these families are making the effort, though it may cost time from other pursuits. I suggest that more public entities make their technological resources available to members of the community, as a public service. This may not be an easy thing to do, but it certainly would serve, at least in a small way, to even up the divide.

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