Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Journal #2

Mind the Gap; It's a high-speed, high-def, Wi-Fi world. But not for everybody.
Published by Cindy Long in the March 2008 issue of NEA Today

In this article Cindy Long discusses the effect that Technology has on education and student achievement in our increasingly technical world. According to the author, as technology becomes more and more embedded in every aspect of life in the modern world, students who have limited access to computers and the internet are falling off the digital divide. The author claims that students who have few opportunities to develop digital literacy are not acquiring the skills they need to be successful and to fully participate in the 21st century. Paradoxically, while evolving technology has in many ways widened the achievement gap between poorer and wealthier students, the solution to the problem is technology. According to Long, universal access to technology can help overcome social and economic inequity. Long cites 5 examples from communities across the country where community centers, after school programs, or dedicated teachers have made technology accessible to low income students and have integrated it into their every days live. In all of these examples, regular access to internet and computers had a profound impact on the students’ lives: achievement gaps were narrowed, college attendance rates doubled or tripled, and a whole new world of information and opportunities, for learning, creativity and self-expression was opened up to the students.

How can increased access to the internet narrow the achievement gap of low-income students and help overcome inequity in education?
Regular access to computers and the internet gives students the opportunity to be consumers and creators of information on a global scale. Internet tools like blogger, wikis, my space, and YouTube encourage students to express themselves and be creative, and give them the opportunity to connect and share ideas with peers from all over the world. The incredible amount of resources and information available online, allows kids to take of control of their education and direct their own learning, and this empowers them to look beyond the limitations of the school curriculum and become pro-active learners.

Question 2:
What are some technology related activities that I can assign to my students that would encourage them to be creative and become active learners?
It would be cool to have students pick 4 or 5 topics that interest them at the beginning of the year and create a class wiki for each one of these topics. While all students would be required to contribute resources and comments to all of the wikis, each wiki would be assigned to a small group of students would be responsible for making sure that the information posted is accurate and appropriate, and that there is a wide range of resources available.