Saturday, March 04, 2006

Digital Divide: Human Factors

Recently a professor of mine (Jim Glazer, district media coordinator in St. Paul metro area somewhere) presented to our class on the digital divide - a familiar topic and one I always seem to be working "on the wrong side" of. I know that technology is the wave of the future, that we are raising a generation of addicts (for good or bad), and from here the usage possibilities seem endless, exciting and frightening in shifts. Because I hate being left behind in anything, I set a New Year's resolution to get with the program, so I keep my ears open for the digital divide presentation. What an interesting spin Jim put on the issue when he identified about eight separate divides, two of which seemed especially pertinent to me. One was the skills divide - having the technology but not being able to use it. This was certainly a factor when I taught on the border. Thanks to federal government funding and some smart grant writing, we had technology coming out of our ears - LCD projectors, laptop carts, smart boards, etc., etc. They all lived in the library, though, because so few teacher knew how to use them. The other area was a staffing digital divide - that staff come to schools with varying level of technological proficiency.

These facets of the divide seem so obvious, so important. Why haven't I head of them before? Slacking up on my digital divide reading, perhaps. . . To be on the safe side, I checked with the "experts." The authorities in the government (http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/) seem as clueless as to the human factors as me. The authorities at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_divide) seem a bit more current. Surprise, surprise. Back to html, more on this later. . .

21 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

Leah,

I recently sat down with our school "SIPPPA" team and discussed this issue. Your blog reinforced what someone within this team said to me. It was something like this, "Maybe you expected to much from your technology committee." Let me explain this a moment, you see I was venting a bit about the fact that I had put together agendas, "divided up" the tasks and then was disappointed when there was completely no follow through. The statement "maybe I expected to much" is exactly what you blogged about here. I guess I just assumed that the staff members that I had on my team could take a cd and run the program to see how well they liked the program. I was sadly mistaken and now I am back to square one, but I have learned a valuable lesson. Make the groups smaller, work one on one if possible to explore the programs, because it is very likely that many teachers within buildings simple don't use technology because they have had no training at all. Thanks for your blog.

Mark Laske

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