This article presents another issue created by the so-called “digital divide” that is occurring throughout the nation. Many families in Central Florida are unable to afford Internet access and it is creating an issue for students at local schools. According to a 2011 Scarborough Research analysis mentioned in the article, “11 percent of Florida households with school-age children still lack Internet access”.
Question 1: What is your opinion of the issue in the article?
Answer 1: I feel that the issue in the article is a large one. I am aware that access to technology is largely growing, and that in a few years, a large majority of the population is going to have equal access to at least the minimum amount of access needed in order to complete school assignments, however, this transition stage needs to be treated with more care. A student’s socioeconomic status should not affect his learning potential. In Ocoee Middle School, Principal Sharyn Gabriel stated: “The digital divide is not because students lack devices. The digital divide stems from the lack of Wi-Fi.” While this may be true, it does not make the matter any less serious. There were many students in the article interviewed who said that they had to go to a McDonald’s or a Starbucks in order to receive free Wi-Fi so that they could turn in assignments because oftentimes, the computer labs at their schools or libraries were too crowded for them. There was also another student interviewed who said that his phone allowed him Internet access, however, reading information from a 4-inch screen strained his eyes. On another note, while I can see that the use of electronic textbooks could be more valuable, it also has it’s downfalls. Every student can gain access to an actual textbook, but not all students can access digital textbooks, and if there’s even one student who is not able to get Internet access, therefore limiting his/her learning potential, that’s one student too many.
Question 2: How will the issue help or hinder teaching practices? Why?
Answer 2: Even though this article is set in Central Florida, it still applies to many other areas in the United States. Wherever I end up teaching, I will take into account the fact that not all students may have easy access to Internet. I will work with these students to see what I can do to help. As an Elementary teacher, I believe that this will affect me less than it would a High School teacher, as most of the assignments I will assign will be done in class with a computer readily available. However, if any of my students wish to be able to use the Internet for other learning resources and do not have access from their homes, I will provide them with alternate technology sources. I will also be sure to remind them that libraries have books with a great amount of information, as many people these days seem to forget about.