Thursday, November 27, 2014

1:1 isn't enough to level the playing field

We often discuss technology, and specifically 1:1 initiatives, as ways to level the playing field between under-resourced students and their more affluent classmates. Certainly, wealthier students are more likely to have access to connected devices at home. But numerous studies have actually found that providing the devices is not enough to conquer the 'digital divide,' the disparities between the social classes related to technology. Studies have shown that a computer in the hands of a disadvantaged student is often used much differently than computers provided to students of privilege. Poorer students were more likely to play games and seek out entertainment online. Students of greater means spent more time reading and using the devices for homework. An interesting piece summarizing some of these findings is linked at the end of this post.

So what can be concluded from this information? Should we ignore access as an issue of educational opportunity? Absolutely not. Instead, schools should continue to strive to provide greater access to digital devices. But the true difference will happen as a result of how students are taught to use the devices. All students need to have opportunities and practice using technology for learning purposes. Students should create online, develop a positive digital footprint, write for broader audiences, connect globally, and so on. Technology will only level the playing field as students are instructed in using the devices productively.


Educational technology isn't leveling the playing field - The Hechinger Report photo credit: zappowbang via photopin cc
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