The Digital Divide

Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living.
- Nicholas Negroponte


  • Lesson plan creation reminder
  • Lesson conferencing later in class

Digital Divide

  • What were your reactions in going through the Stich.It?
    • Differences in kids' skills from high SES vs. low SES schools
    • Shifting from digital divide (access) to a knowledge divide (how they use the technology)
    • Teaching kids how to operate technology, troubleshoot, whatever - expects a lot of teachers
    • It's not just computers, it's also mobile phones - how can we leverage these?
    • Interesting, but not surprising, about divide in interest in technology across generations
  • Summary of findings related to tech use in high vs. low SES schools (knowledge divide)
    • Huge investment in putting technology into schools - in high and low SES schools
    • Technology can benefit students (engagement, active, inquiry, etc.)
    • But with NCLB and outcomes testing - shift in lower performing schools to use drill and kill, test prep software; higher level uses of technology in higher performing schools (this gap is growing)
    • Uneven level of support for technology
  • So, what are we going to do about it?

Small group work

  • Groups
    • Access to equipment (at school and home)
    • Use of mobile devices
    • One-computer classrooms
    • One-to-one environments
  • Process
    • Develop shared definition of the digital divide
    • Explore readings
    • How does this add to your definition?
    • Based on the readings and your own experience,
      what tips and strategies might you employ to mitigate some of these challenges?


  • In your readings and discussion, what new ideas, tips and strategies have you identified to address the digital divide in your classroom?
    • Access to equipment (at school and home)
      • Definition: at first, whether they have computers at home, etc.; but after the readings, access is a little more complicated (access to broadband, capabilities of phones, etc.) - the type (capabilities of phone, speed of connection, etc.) of access matters just as much as simple metric of having a computer at home
      • Questions
        • Whether/how to assign technology-based homework?
          • If study hall where kids can get online, this is more doable
          • Avoid technology-based homework, instead provide time in class to do technology-related aspect
          • Provide flexible or longer-term timelines for due dates
          • Can't necessarily count on students being able to come in early or stay after school, go to the library to complete this kind of work
          • Flipped classroom
    • Use of mobile devices
      • Definition: lack of technology and ability to access technology available, deficient computer literacy caused by a range of features that limit access...
      • Minorities more likely to access Internet via mobile phones - can be feature phones (more for entertainment) or smartphones - none of these options allow for creation of content
      • Strategies/Questions
        • Still need to learn computer skills
        • Cost is still an issue (particularly data plans)
        • Are limitations to capabilities of even smartphones
        • School districts policies may prohibit phones in class
        • BYOT plans can help, but not every kid has it bring
        • Identify good uses for phones (e.g., quick reference, apps)
        • When you give homework, think about what they could do with a mobile device (e.g., more focused research)
        • QR codes can be used in a variety of ways - updates, research, etc.
    • One-computer classrooms
      • Definition: Uneven access to hardware and information
      • Strategies
        • Groupwork with stations - if groups are large (i.e., 5 students) many will be passive and not involved; it may take students with less computer experience longer to do their work at the stations
          • Can divide them into more permanent groups to allow kids without access at home to more computer time
        • Interactive whiteboards and/or Interwrite tablets allow for greater participation
        • Can't make assumptions about what students know how to do - teach skills
        • In terms of research, whole group demonstration, modeling and instruction can be helpful for those students without home access
        • Need to be intentional in terms of front-loading to make use of time on the computer most efficient; important to have clarity of process and expectations
        • Mouse mischief and other interactive polls, quiz games to get students involved
        • Slow typing can be a limiting factor
    • One-to-one environments
      • Definition: the DD is the disparity of application of technology between students
        • 1:1 may not be as beneficial, by itself, that you might think
        • It's important to have goals that technology can address
        • Food delivery truck metaphor - kids have to be on the route and must have access to healthy foods
        • Strategies to keep students on track
          • Make sure that students are on-task and using tools appropriately
          • Teacher needs to know how to properly implement the software
          • Focus on the advantage of the computer
          • Make sure that the use of computers is productive

Lesson Conferencing

  • Group up with 2-3 other students
  • Share the learning goal(s), sequence of learning activities, and technology(ies) you've selected
  • Discuss the sequence of learning activities and the ways in which the technology adds value - are they better alternatives?
  • Challenge each other on the value of the technology in terms of connection with content, pedagogy, and UDL
  • If you get bogged down with a particular scenario or tools choice, call over Dr. Hofer
  • Rinse and repeat

For Next Time

Future Research on the Digital Divide for more resources and articles