Web 2.0 & Digital Divide

Recently I was teaching the use of delicious and similar tools during a educational technologies course. One of my pre-service teaching students asked me about the relevance for students  without access to social networking or internet technologies outside of school–especially since she was working in a support capacity in a school in socio-economically challenged area.

My reply at the time was to cite a comment my sister told me recently, that public school and high school in particular are one of society’s great equalizers.  Today I was reading “Tweeting Your Way to Better Grades” online @ US News & World Report by Zach Miners. Miners paraphrased then quoted Jim Burke, an English teacher @ Burlingame High in California:

the fact that some students might not have access to broadband Internet outside of school is the very reason why teachers should be focusing on bringing those technologies into school.

“If a kid doesn’t have the means to set up an account on one of these services and to learn how to use it, then he’s losing out on these emerging forms of literacy”

I think that he says it better than I did. I believe that there is a moral obligation to provide access to technology especially for those who can’t get it anywhere else.  In discussions with my students, I also suggested that schools start a technology club to allow students with an interest to meet before school, during lunch, breaks or after school to mutually support each other. In this way, students who are socio-economically challenged could be encouraged to join–much as other students–without any stigma attached to participation.

Your thoughts? Ideas?

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