Digital Divide/Digital Inequality

Digital Divide & InequalityOver the years I have become bored with digital slide show presentations.

  • Bored with watching them.
  • Bored with creating them.
  • Bored with trying to remember all the bulleted items.

The concepts that Garr Reynolds put forth in his book, “Presentation Zen” (Reynolds, 2009), have challenged me to create a different type of slide show. It worked! I actually enjoyed making the slide show for this artifact. What’s more, I believe his concepts can be applied to render communication more effective in a myriad of media.

In my “Digital Divide and Inequality in San Antonio” presentation, I attempted to put many of Reynolds’ principles to the test. I used fewer words and more slides, for example, and not a single bullet. That was a challenge to someone who has been making traditional slide shows for twenty years! I also used photos and images to get the point across, as well as varying font sizes to provide emphasis. Take a look at the presentation and see if the concepts are presented clearly without bullet points (an approach that was foreign to me until recently).

Presenting a slide show through VoiceThread was also an enjoyable experience. It took longer than I expected simply because I wanted to start over each time I stumbled over words. But, I like that the recording started and stopped for each slide. That made shorter chunks of recording time, keeping it very easy to record overall. I can see where this tool could be very useful in distance learning as well as with work for absent students. I took notes in Google Docs, but I found that it was easier for me to follow my notes in Google Slides while narrating because with a glance I could see that I was on the same slide in Google Slides as in VoiceThread.

The presentation topic was interesting, as well. I had heard the term digital divide before, but I didn’t understand it. Digital inequality was a new term to me. In reading about digital divide and its consequences, I now have a better understanding of the problem and ramifications. In more than one instance it was stated that Internet access is just as important as having electricity or water. I am not sure that I understand that perspective because people lived just fine for thousands of years before the Internet was invented. I understand that to be competitive in the job market one must have certain skills. But, I don’t know that it warrants equating Internet access with drinking water.

Link to VoiceThread

While the term digital inequality is new to me, the concept is not. I have witnessed many students come to my classroom who were not familiar with the equipment we were using, or who were lacking in skills that I thought they should have by the time they got to my class. This isn’t much different from the other subject areas. In band, I often get fifth grade students who have not read music, or sung songs – both standard curriculum for third and fourth grade music classes. It makes sense, then, that we should expect the same discrepancy in technology skills. Once we expect it, we then need to deal with it so our students can catch up.

It is easy for me to see that I need to include the definition of digital divide and digital inequality when I train staff in the future. That almost goes without saying. If a teacher doesn’t know a problem exists, she won’t be able to address it. But I also believe that we need to take into account the digital inequality that exists among our faculty and staff. We have a wide range of abilities on staff, and the teacher’s ability, or lack thereof, is evident in the education that students receive.  Some students receive a healthy dose of educational technology. Others may not see anything for weeks on end. This is a need that can be addressed with training as well as administrative intervention. Administrators need to set policies and procedures for appropriate use of technological resources to ensure that all students receive the benefits of educational technology (AECT, 2007).

My presentation is available on VoiceThread. Had there been more time to complete this presentation, I would have completed a much more extensive survey of our school community. Students and parents would be asked to contribute, as well as a bigger pool of teachers. It would be most interesting to have a larger data sample regarding how many families have broadband access in their homes and how many parents feel their children are ready to use educational technology as users, managers, and creators. This would help us to better tailor our programs to the needs of our students.

Sources:

AECT Code of Ethics (2007).  Retrieved from http://aect.site-ym.com. Berkeley, CA. New Riders.

Reynolds, Garr (2011). Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery.

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