Paper_ The Digital Divide by wpr1947


									   The Digital Divide in the
United States Education System

           Katharine Keyser
              July 3, 2008
              EDUC 6584
       Computers as a Teacher’s Aid
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       Since the introduction of the Internet in the 1990’s and the beginning of the digital age,

new forms of technology have been introduced to society every year. These technologies such as

iPods, laptops, and the wireless web have had an impact on the public education system of the

United States in positive ways. With government funding and grants given to schools, educators

are able to obtain various forms of emerging technology and use them in their classrooms for

educational purposes. Not all schools; however, are able to acquire the new forms of technology,

causing a digital divide between students of poor urban and rural districts to those of middle and

upper class suburban districts. This digital divide is creating an unequal education system that

can have serious consequences on the students that do not have access to these new educational


       The digital divide is said to be, “the ever-growing gap between those people and

communities who have access to information technology and those who do not” (Carvin, 2000).

The digital divide is a major issue for the education system because students who are at the non

receiving end of the digital divide are not learning necessary skills that will allow them to

compete in the technological society the United States lives in (Garland & Wotton, 2001). Most

of the developed world today needs computers and cell phones to function and students with less

knowledge of technology will not be as marketable as students who have grown up using them in

school. Hindering a student’s knowledge because of where they live or how much money their

family makes is unfair to that student and his or her future.

       Having access to technology such as the Internet is beneficial to the learning environment

of students. Having such technology, students can become more engaged in the learning process

through the use of Internet research, video games, virtual tours, and podcasts. In regards to the

digital divide Garland and Wotton write, “Lack of access (to computer technology) widens the
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learning gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged” (2001). Technologically

disadvantaged children can lack academic, cultural, and economic opportunities that other

children might be having in wealthier school districts (Garland and Wotton, 2001). In an effort to

close the digital divide, the United States government implemented a program called E-Rate. The

program provides over $2 billion to thousands of schools each year through federal

telecommunications subsidies to help support classroom Internet access (Carvin, 2000). Through

this government program the digital divide has shrunk and more schools have been able to

introduce the Internet into their classrooms. Even with this program inequalities still exist and

some school districts do not have funding to obtain other forms of educational technology.

        Another problem that arises with the digital divide is that some educators do not take full

advantage of having technology in their classroom. According to Carvin, “Research has shown

that educators who are resistant to constructivist teaching practices are less likely to utilize the

Internet in their lessons, while educators who are more comfortable with constructivist practices

are more likely to do so” (2000). The only way that technology will be introduced into more

classrooms is through the teachers and in order to use it effectively teachers need to be trained in

how to use the technology. If a teacher doesn’t feel comfortable or use technology then it is

being wasted. Educators who are on the leading edge of the advances in technology can

incorporate higher order skills into their instruction and can also make for more meaningful

learning (Garland and Wotton, 2001). Not only is technology needed in schools where it is

lacking, but training for teachers should be provided so maximum benefits can be taken from


        A digital divide is present in the United States public school system and although

government action is being taken to lessen the gap, there are still many disadvantaged school
                                                                                             Keyser 4

districts. The future of the learning will be based on using new technology to enhance the

learning process; however, teachers will need to be pro-active in their efforts to make sure that

new technology is used correctly. The digital divide is major issue facing the educational system

in the United States and the students in poor urban and rural districts are the ones feeling the


        This assignment has made me realize that not every school district has the same amount

of technology resources available to them and it is possible that I might get hired as a teacher in a

district that is not considered technologically advanced. If I am placed in a situation such as that,

I will need to be pro-active in coming up with creative ways to present a lesson without using

technology to make sure that just because the technology is lacking, the overall lesson I am

trying to get across to my students will not suffer. Being in Computer’s as a Teacher’s Aid and

researching this article has made me realize that I need to stay aware and be trained in the most

up to date technology because of the benefits that exist when used appropriately in the


        This assignment addresses standard 3, diverse learners, and standard 10, professional

development, of the New Jersey Professional Standards for Teachers. Dealing with diverse

learners is a major part of being a teacher. There are many outside forces that can impact a

student and respecting these students and understanding them is something that I need to deal

with as a teacher. Many times different forms of technology are used to help diverse learners

take in a concept or see a lesson from a different perspective. Having a digital divide may hinder

diverse learners in poorer districts causing them not to reach their full potential. Professional

standard 10 also works for this assignment because as an educator I should always be learning.

As new forms of technology are introduced I will need to learn how to use them and incorporate
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them into my lessons. Staying aware of current educational issues such as the digital divide and

what it means to me and my school district is something that I will need to pay attention to. Also,

if I want to make a difference I will need to take action to gain new forms of technology in my

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Carvin, A. (2000, January). Mind the gap: The digital divide as the civil rights issue of the new
       millennium. Multimedia Schools, 7(1), 56. Retrieved July 2, 2008, from Academic
       Search Premier database at Fairleigh Dickinson Univeristy.

Garland, Virginia E. & Wotton, Sara E. (2001). Bridging the digital divide in public schools.
       Journal of Educational Technology Systems, Volume 30, Number 2, pp. 115-123.
       Retrieved July 1, 2008, from EBSCO Electronic Journal Service at Fairleigh Dickinson

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