Participation and the Digital Divide, who misses out?

Written summation: Week 4, Participation and the Digital Divide

What is the digital divide?

The world we live in today is a digital world where going online is essential to accessing education, information, government and community services. However, not everyone gets equal access to the same technologies (Howell, 2012). This gap is referred to as the digital divide and as we become more reliant on the digital world, the disadvantage of being offline grows (Ewing, 2016). Despite Internet access improving overall, the digital divide between richer and poorer still exists. Australians with low levels of income, education and employment are generally more digitally excluded. Internet fees have decreased over time but is still difficult to afford for those with fixed incomes. Australia is the third highest Internet user population in the world (Curtin, 2001), proving how much we rely on the digital world. The benefits of being online is infinite, making life easier and more convenient. Having the ability to complete tasks at the click of a button and communicating with others with a few touches on the keyboard has become a necessity rather than a luxury. However, this puts those who are digitally excluded at a greater disadvantage, as they are unable to access essential services.

What should teachers do?

The world goes on assuming the general population has access to the Internet, forgetting about the minority that very much exists. One of the most detrimental things a teacher can do is assume their students have unlimited access to Internet and set homework with that mentality. In order to bridge the digital divide, teachers need to consider students who are unable to access the Internet and provide them with another pathway to complete the required task. For example, if the homework was to research about an animal and to write a summary using Word document, schedule time for the student to access the library after school and contact the parent regarding this matter. An extended due date could be given due to their circumstances and this can take the burden off the student.

 

Additional Inclusion

This video created on ‘Powtoon’ is both informative and engaging, utilising visually appealing cartoons and catchy background music to present the facts about the digital divide.

The digital divide is significantly more apparent in America and this short documentary gives you an insight into the difficulties a family faces when trying to access Internet for educational purposes.

 

List of References 

Bentley, P. (2014). Bridging the digital divide. ABC News. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/bridging-the-digital-divide/5566644

Curtin, J. (2001). A Digital Divide in Rural and Regional Australia?. Parliament of Australia.

Ewing, S. (2016). Australia’s digital divide is narrowing, but getting deeper. The Conversation. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/australias-digital-divide-is-narrowing-but-getting-deeper-55232

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

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Digital Fluency

Audio summation: Week 6, Digital Fluency

Click the link below to view the Voki presentation focusing on the Week 6 topic ‘Digital Fluency.’

 

Following is the script to my Voki presentation:

Digital fluency means being able to use digital technology in the way we want to, successfully gaining information and achieving the desired outcome. According to Howell (2012), digital fluency includes being proficient in both recreational and learning technologies. In our century, digital technology impacts us on a daily basis, therefore proficiency in technology is an essential skill to have. Those who are not fluent in technology will struggle in society today, reinforcing the importance of teaching kids how to use digital technologies.

According to Howell (2012), kids achieve some level of proficiency in recreational technologies by playing games on consoles and tablets but are expected to gain proficiency in learning technologies during their time in school. Basic and essential programs such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel are necessary for kids to learn during primary school and their skills with these programs will gradually improve over time with experience. Back when I was in primary school, using these programs and a few websites were all we were expected to be skilled at as technology was not as advanced as it is now. Howell (2012) has a suggested digital fluency checklist that states all the skills children need to have learnt by the end of primary school and it is surprisingly very extensive. This shows how our world has become a digital world and the importance of structuring class lessons around various digital technologies.

Successful learning can be achieved when teachers believe in the benefits and necessity of digital technology. Showing enthusiasm and having an open-mind to all digital tools out there is key to promoting digital fluency in kids, encouraging them to fully utilise the incredible technology that exists. According to Spencer (2015), “if we work with fluency, we are able to keep ourselves safe online and take full advantage of life chance opportunities such as being able to apply for work, manage our finances, or be part of our local community”. We are now online more than ever and being digitally fluent has never been more important. Developing kids into individuals who can function in our constantly evolving digital world is an important goal for teachers to achieve during schooling.

List of References

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Spencer, K. (2015). What is digital fluency?. Blog.core-ed.org. Retrieved from http://blog.core-ed.org/blog/2015/10/what-is-digital-fluency.html

Final Reflection

The world we live in has become a digital world, making it a priority for teachers to incorporate digital technologies in the classroom to promote digital fluency in students. Society is now digitally expectant meaning teachers are expected to be proficient in using technology and therefore teaching it to their students. After using WordPress, Voki and Prezi to create my summations, I have realised the importance of using digital technologies in the classroom as it encourages teachers to learn new skills and also, promotes creativity in students. Teachers can lead by example when using digital tools, showing students how useful and fun they can be.

I have always enjoyed reading blogs but creating one myself seemed daunting and useless. However, creating this blog was an enjoyable activity and encouraged me to think creatively, which I have not needed to do in a long time. I have come to realise the diversity of blogging and the benefits it can bring to the classroom. According to Poth (2016), integrating blogging in lessons helped “resolve the disconnect between the students and herself”. She found encouraging students to use digital tools such as Edmodo “empowered students to take responsibility for their learning” and also gave them an “opportunity to express themselves”. Using blogs also develops critical and analytical thinking, which Martin (n.d.) explains that a blog “provides students with an opportunity to employ language and writing principles that demonstrate analytical thought and comprehension”. Blogging encourages students to think critically and creatively and is a tool that I believe teachers in our century should all try out.

Integrating audio and visual technology into the classroom is important, as children need more than words to fully grasp a concept. Creating audio and visual summations different to creating my written summation, as I had to think about more than just the content. I needed to make sure the information was presented clearly on Prezi, while still having an interesting format. I also needed to use my teacher voice on Soundcloud and this required many practice recordings. However, with the correct use of audio and visual tools, it is an effective teaching and learning platform that sparks creativity in students, providing them with another way of engaging with topics.

Digital technology is crucial in classrooms today as it teaches students to be digitally fluent, a skill that is necessary in society today. Students can create, imagine, play, share and reflect when using technology (Howell, 2012), which is important for development and growth. It is beneficial for teachers to actively seek digital tools and effectively incorporate them into lessons to inspire students to become creative and digitally fluent learners.

List of references

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Martin, L. Educational Benefits of Blogging. Smallbusiness.chron.com. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/educational-benefits-blogging-27588.html

Poth, R. (2016). What Are The Benefits Of Student Blogging? -. TeachThought. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/literacy/what-are-the-benefits-of-student-blogging/