There is a new digital divide. It is the digital divide between teachers and students.
Some Students Start Behind
Students show up to school with so many different strengths and challenges. One of those challenges is lack of dependable Internet access, consistent access to technology, an understanding of how to behave online.
Often this is a function of economic status, but sometimes a lack of age-appropriate exposure to technology. As educators we know how to address and overcome such issues. If the issues are important.
Teachers can articulate their need for technology training, can students? How would those requests be addressed?
Schools Separate Teachers and Students
Schools may unwittingly be exacerbating the digital divide. Schools provide teachers with technology for their classrooms and teaching, but students are not always issued computers, or devices, for their learning. Textbooks are given freely as take home resources for many years; simple devices like Chromebooks (reasonably inexpensive) and tablets could become the new consumable (sample Chromebook Protection Plan). Schools can help through a shift of perspective where they identify a percentage of potential loss/theft/damage as tolerable and take the 1:1 philosophy all the way, home.
Teachers Divide Themselves
In a more recent phenomenon, teachers are intentionally/unintentionally excluding their content from digital reach. By not making their course materials available online they are limiting their students to only synchronous, in-class exposure to their content.
School can help these teachers, but it is not by buying canned online curriculum. Teachers need time to work with that content and figure out how it fits into their classroom.
Teachers need time to:
- review the content, examine the features of their online platform can work with the content
- explore strategies/approaches with other teachers of the same content
- experiment with the amount of online versus face-to-face content for their structure/personality
When not all teachers have time to step through these progressions, some teachers are left behind. Unless time is made for all teachers to go through these developmental steps, there will be those teachers who divide themselves from the rest of us.
What are you able to do to overcome this new digital divide between teachers and students?