The objective of this project was three fold: research and learn about the Digital Divide and digital inequality, develop state-specific strategies and solutions to this growing problem, and utilize an online collaborative group to create a final presentation using a specific technology: Prezi. For our presentation, we focused on the state of Idaho and prioritized and developed a list of solutions to the inequalities of technology in access, equipment, and preparation.
The digital divide can be best understood as the growing inequity that technology creates in today’s world. Technology offers the potential to be a great equalizer, but more often than not, it serves to deepen the divide between haves and have nots as the rich get richer. Thus, a problem exists. Our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, eloquently expressed this idea: “If the technology revolution only happens for families that already have money and education, then its not really a revolution.”
Beyond this divide, I was intrigued by the further distinction among internet users that is known as digital inequality. I was struck by the large discrepancies among the ways people utilize the technology that is available to them that leads to such further discrepancies in wealth and opportunity. This infographic of passive and active use reminded me of the importance of my role in cultivating active and competent users of technology. In my teaching, I need to create opportunities that allow for active uses of technology that allows for collaboration and creation, rather than simple drill and kill worksheets or even word processing.
One of the distinct challenges of this assignment was learning to collaborate in a strictly online setting. In most other settings, I utilize technology to enhance and complement my collaborations with colleagues, but in this setting, due to the fact that my group mates live all across the west coast of the United States. As a team, we needed to learn how to be accountable to one another and accomplish tasks in a equitable way without being able to meet face-to-face. Google Hangouts became a key facilitator of our interactions. Though technological communication made this project and collaboration possible, I think I still prefer the efficiency of face-to-face communication as, at the very least, a complement to online communication.
Throughout the creation of this artifact, I was reconnected with Prezi as a presentation tool. When watching and creating presentations, I like clean lines and a minimalist style, so sometimes the zooming and theatrics of Prezi overwhelms me. However, I am content with the layout choices we made as a group and our goal to include minimal text on each slide. I also learned how to incorporate narration, which was a new skill for me. Though I think if I created this artifact again I would use another multimedia outlet, perhaps Adobe Spark, I am overall pleased with the presentation we created.
As we researched and collaborated, I was struck once again by the importance of this work in my own teaching. I recognize daily the effects of the digital divide in my own classroom and actively seek to create equitable learning opportunities for my students. As such, this research only further increased my understanding of the problem and my potential role in the solutions. If we had more time for this project, I think I would focus my research more specifically on the ways the digital divide plays out in Oregon and/or my specific school community. I plan on extending my understanding and application of this research as I continue to meet the wide range of needs within my classroom.
Here is the link to our group’s Prezi for your viewing pleasure.