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The Digital Divide
By: Amber Jackson
What is the the digital divide?
The digital divide is the “the lack of access to information and communications technologies by segments of the community. The digital divide is a generic term used to describe this lack of access due to linguistic, economic, educational, social and geographic reasons” (Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee).
Some of you may be asking yourself, why should I care? The answer is because America was built on the idea of equality and freedom. Every day America is adding new laws in order to provide equality, but has unfortunately not been able to get to this on. For many years women were discriminated in the job market, but since then the United States established the equal opportunity work act. This allowed more women to participate in jobs, which had a dramatic effect on their lives.
The real question you should ask is why should equality in learning be any different then equality in the work force? The truth is it shouldn’t. It’s honestly the same concept, but it’s just not as noticeable in the public eye. In addition, everyone should be allowed to start on the same starting line; otherwise, people will get left behind. The best way for all societies to flourish is by allowing everyone the opportunity to develop their fullest potential. If people were able to become whom they were meant to be, then America would be a lot better off. People would be less focused on the inequalities and more focused on their potential.
Why you should care?
Why you should care cont.
“Over 60% of today's jobs require technology skills. Lack of access to the tools of today's workplaces leads those without the technology to be stuck in place, to never be able to make enough money to afford the technology and training that would make employment in areas requiring the use of technology even possible” (“Bridging the Digital Divide”).
This is a problem because if a person could not afford to buy a computer or never learned how to use a computer, then they are pretty much out of luck. This can really narrow down the choices of what the person can do career wise. A simple secretary job includes a familiarity with the main computer programs. These people are so limited in about almost aspect of their lives. They are becoming severely disadvantage with the new innovations.
The Three Stages Of the Digital Divide
There are three stages of the digital divide. The first stage is the economic divide. This is “…the simplest form, the digital divide is manifested in the fact that some people can't afford to buy a computer.” (Nielsen). The fact of the matter is that computers are expensive. Even the less known name brand named ones are expensive. They are hundreds of dollars and if a family is struggling to make ends meet and get food on the table, then I highly doubt that they are going to run out and buy a computer.
The Three Stages Cont.Stage two is the usability divide. It is far worse than the
economic divide is the fact that technology remains so complicated that many people couldn't use a computer even if they got one for free. Many others can use computers, but don't achieve the modern world's full benefits because most of the available services are too difficult for them to understand” (Nielsen). The usability divide does just mean that people cannot use the technology because they have never learned, but it also means the inability of a person who may not be able to read very well.
Stage three is the empowerment divide. This states that even if computers were affordable and not complicated, then they might not be used to their full extent. This is useful because this goes into the digital divide and the stages that it comprises it.” (Nielsen). This divide is extremely important. The way the people decided to use technology matters. If a person is given the opportunity but does not take it then there is not much that can be done. However, if a person is given the purity and does take it, then this can mean a complete difference in the world to them.
The digital gap in education is a major topic that needs more attention. “It was estimated that approximately 68% of low-income White households did not have access to the Internet, compared to 75% of African American and 74%of Hispanic low-income households” (Pew, 2000). This goes to show that not only do a good majority of Americans not have the Internet, but also that there is a divide in the amount of access to the Internet between ethnicities.
Early access to technology
“Having access to these forms of technology especially the computer can really help future a child’s learn, just as the presence of books and reading material at home can impact the reading readiness of a child, the availability of computers and Internet access at home can also influence a child’s technology literacy readiness.” (qtd. in Fulton and Sible 2003).
This proves that computers can impact on children and do. The children who cannot afford to have a computer at home are suffering. They are not being given an equal opportunity to expand their mind. This is causing an even bigger learning gap because the people who do have the computers are able to learn more. However, if the digital divide isn’t fixed, then there will not be a chance for equal opportunity learning.
Benefits of technologyIn addition, the use of computers can enhance how
children learn by supporting four fundamental characteristics of learning. These characteristics are “(a) active engagement, (b) participation in groups, (c) frequent interaction and feedback, and (d) connections to real-world contexts” (qtd. in Roschelle et al., 2000).
Active engagement allows for the children to remember information by applying it to theirs lives. Participation in groups allows them to become comfortable in social situation, which can help them in job settings. Frequent interaction and feedback allows them to learn from the mistakes and allows them to problem solve, which can help in everyday life. Lastly, real-world context obviously allows them to apply the skills they learn to real world experiences. In addition, their technology skills can help these students become more intelligent and active members in society. This could possibly lead to a better job, which could enhance their life.
There are a number of organization aimed at helping children computers who cannot afford them. Some of these organizations include: One Laptop per Child organization, unicef, and the Digital alliance foundation. These organization all allow for people to become volunteers. They are non-for-profit, which obviously means they do not do their work for a prophet, but rather do it for a causes. Their intentions are to better these nations, not manipulate them. I personally find One laptop per child to be a really good organization that lets you interact in a way that wasn’t really possible before.
One Laptop Per Child is an organization at giving computers to those who cannot afford it. This organization has five core principles that helps them succeed. These principles are : 1) kids keep the laptops, 2) focus early education, 3) no gets left out, 4) connection to the internet, 5) Free growth to adapt.
One laptop per child allows for people to get involved without really spending too much money or doing physical labor. One of ways to volunteer is by buying a laptop computer to send to the less fortune. Another way is to give a gift. This means actually buy the laptop for someone you know as present and the money from the sell goes to the organization. The last way is to donate money directly. By this I mean not buying the laptop, but sending money over pay pal or another money website.
Work cited “Bridging the Digital Divide.” Technology the News. 11 January 2002. 15 April 2009. <http://
Fulton,K.,&Sibley,R(2003).Barrierstoequity.InG.Solomon,N.Allen, &P.Resta(Eds.).Toward digital equity: Bridging the divide in education (pp. 14–24).Boston:Allyn&Bacon.
Lizzardo. 13 January 2008. My Computer Keys. 15 April 2009. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/ lizzardo/2189776899/>
Miller, Ron. Whole Child Learning: Resources for Parents.15 April 2009.<http:www.theglobalintelligencer.com/aug2007/education
Nielsen, Jakob. "Digital Divide: The Three Stages." Digital Divide:The Three Stages. 20 Nov. 2006. 6 Feb. 2009 <http://www.useit.com/alertbox/digital- divide.html>.
Roschelle,J.,Pea,R.D.,Hoadley,C.M.,Gordin,D.G.,&Means,B.(2000). Changing how and what children learn In school with computer- based technologies. The Future of Children, 10(2),76–101.
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“Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee.” 5 May 2005. Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee. 15 Apr. 2009 <http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/SARC/E-Democracy/Final_Report/Glossary.htm>.