Yes, the elusive and sometimes controversial topic of digital divide. It’s a hot issue especially, since Web 2.0 is bursting-at-its seams. Yvonne DiVita’s interview with AT&T’s Spokesperson Claudia Jones over at the Lip-stiking blog strikes a match to the conversation. They discuss AT&T’s Project Lightspeed, which connects rural communities to the Internet at a faster pace. Diva Marketing‘s post “Bridging the Gap” furthers the conversation on digital divide. The digital divide refers to the gap between those who have a lot of access to the Internet and those who have little to no access. Typically, the discussion revolves around the ‘haves and have nots’ or ‘wealthy vs. poor.’ Toby’s post on Diva Marketing points to relevant articles and projects working to eliminate the digital divide. I suggest parousing through them, they are very enlightening. I was intrigued with Washington State University’s Digital Divide Project, which works with and provides resources for teachers to incorporate technology into their classrooms.
A similar project is The George Lucas Educational Foundation (edutopia) whose mission is to “celebrate and encourage innovation in schools.” They support several programs that are working to close the divide. Community technology centers provide access to multimedia tools, like video cameras, editing equipment, computers, and the Internet to students in inner-city neighborhoods. In my past life I was an inner-city public school teacher and part of me is still really passionate about urban education. My students had access to computers and the Internet at school, but may not of had access at home. My class spent time doing assignments on the Internet and I believe it enriched their experience while learning about the infamous Shakespeare. I think that projects like Street-Level Youth Soar, a Chicago nonprofit, make a tremendous and positive impact on student’s lives. What is imporant is that through education and projects focused on inner-city youth the digital divide can be bridged.
I really like what David Warlick of the blog 2 Cents Worth has to say. It is totally on point.
“There are lots of digital divides, each with its own seeds for danger. What I was thinking about was the digital divide between tech-savvy students and students with little or no access to networked digital information outside the classroom — and to some extent, the digital divide between tech-savvy students and less-savvy teachers. …
Today, the divide has multiplied, because people with contemporary (digital/21st century) literacy skills not only consume content, but they are the content. Being literate means being part of the network. The difference is not merely the individual who can read and individual who can not. It’s the difference between networked communities of power, and individuals who are cut off. This is a distinction too broad to ignore or postpone.”
A new form of literacy has emerged, as David points out and how we go about breaking this alternate form of illiteracy will change all of our lives.
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