Implications of the Digital Divide for Education R. Scotty Auble and Roberta Niche 8/19/01 ED 251
Introduction to the Digital Divide • There is a disparity in access to computers and the Internet related to economic and/or racial status. • This digital divide has been extensively reported by news media, educational institutions, and government agencies for the last 5-6 years. • The digital divide has major impacts on fair and equal access to education and economic opportunity.
The Nature of the Problem • Government and Private Statistics show that the digital divide affects lower-income and non-white persons’ ability to fully participate in the “Information Age”. • Attempts to close the gap have been partially successful. Much of the burden has fallen on educational institutions with severe resource constraints.
The Digital Divide by the Numbers • The report Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide from the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (US Commerce Dept.) shows the following about home computer and Internet use: • Those with a college degree are more than eight times as likely to have a computer at home, and nearly sixteen times as likely to have home Internet access, as those with an elementary school education. • A high-income household in an urban area is more than twenty times as likely as a rural, low-income household to have Internet access.
The Digital Divide by the Numbers(cont.) • A child in a low-income White family is three times as likely to have Internet access as a child in a comparable Black family, and four times as likely to have access as children in a comparable Hispanic household. • A wealthy household of Asian/Pacific Islander descent is nearly thirteen times as likely to own a computer as a poor Black household, and nearly thirty-four times as likely to have Internet access. • A child in a dual-parent White household is nearly twice as likely to have Internet access as a child in a White single-parent household, while a child in a dual-parent Black family is almost four timesas likely to have access as a child in a single-parent Black household.
The Digital Divide by the Numbers(cont.) • In 2000: • White (46.1%) and Asian American & Pacific Islander (56.8%) households continued to have Internet access at levels more than double those of Black (23.5%) and Hispanic (23.6%) households. • 86.3% of households earning $75,000 and above per year had Internet access compared to 12.7% of households earning less than $15,000 per year. • Nearly 65% of college graduates have home Internet access; only 11.7% of households headed by persons with less than a high school education have Internet access.
The Digital Divide by the Numbers(cont.) • Between 12/98 and 8/2000 the gap in Internet access between Black households and the national average grew from 15 percent to 18 percent; for Hispanic households the gap grew from 14 percent to 18 percent. • About a third of the U.S. population uses the Internet at home; only 18.9 percent of Blacks and 16.1 percent of Hispanics do so. • Of those who use the Internet outside the home, 62.7% do so at work, 18.9% at K-12 schools, 8.3% in other school settings, 9.6% at libraries, .5% at Community Centers, and 13.8% use someone else’s computer.
Education Responds to the Digital Divide • Government and business have increasingly relied on education to solve the problem of equal access. • From the previous slide, 37% of those not having a home computer access the Internet at a school or library. • Since 1994, “wired” schools have increased from 35% to 98%. • In 2000, 77% of instructional rooms were connected to the Internet, up from 64% in 1999
The Digital Divide within Education • There are still differences in Internet access in instructional rooms and student/computer ratios by school characteristics. • In schools with the highest concentration of students in poverty, 60% of instructional rooms were connected to the Internet as opposed to 77%-82% of instructional rooms in wealthier schools. • In schools with the highest minority enrollment,64% of instructional rooms had Internet access. In schools with lower minority enrollment 79%-85% of instructional rooms had access. • In wealthier schools the student to computer ratio is 6:1, while in high poverty schools it is 9:1.
Digital Divide in Education – the Trends • The percentage of instructional rooms with Internet access increased between 1999 and 2000 in these schools: from 38 to 60 percent in schools with the highest concentration of poverty, and from 43 to 64 percent in schools with the highest minority enrollment. • In schools with the highest concentration of poverty, the ratio of students to computers with Internet access improved from 17 to 1 in 1999 to 9 to 1 in 2000.
Issues for Education in Closing the Digital Divide • While funding for hardware is available, infrastructure maintenance is under-funded. • The average business spends between $3,500 and $5,500 per worker in technology and technological support each year, compared to per student spending on technology that rarely exceeds a couple hundred dollars in the best of circumstances. • Case in point, Alpine County USD. Enrollment: 125 students, technology budget: $75,000. Tech funding per student: 600$.
Issues for Education in Closing the Digital Divide, (cont.) • After hours access is a requirement, but many schools have trouble supporting it. • 54% of public schools allow Internet access after hours • 80% of secondary schools and 46% of elementary/middle schools support some form of after hours access. • The numbers are about the same regardless of the school characteristics
Issues for Education in Closing the Digital Divide, (cont.) • Access is limited by staff development and language or cultural barriers with the instructional staff, computers and/or content. • Wealthier, or non-minority students usually have outside access and coaching or instruction, so they don’t need to rely on school staff as heavily. • The majority of the educational content is for English readers and is heavily Euro-centric.
Solutions • What the government is doing • What the private sector is doing • What private/government partnerships are doing
Many government agencies are working separately and jointly to bridge the divide. Their efforts include: • Donations: Making used and surplus equipment available for schools. See Computers for Learning. • Funding Community Access Centers: The National Science Foundation, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Department of Education, for example. See Community Technology Centers.
Problems: • Duplicate programs • Too much paperwork • Donated equipment does no good without tech support, staff development, school/community culture shift
“The equity question is far more complex than just a matter of hardware and funding, though. ‘Children in urban schools and children in suburban schools have a very different sense of self-efficacy when it comes to technology,’ says Louis M. Gomez, an associate professor of education and computer science at Northwestern University. ‘What I've come to understand of this problem is that it's about a culture in schools. There are urban schools that have access and still don't use the technology. It is because there is no culture of use.’” From The Benton Foundation’s,“The Learning Connection”
Because of this, much focus is being placed on two key components that influence school/community culture: • Money for staff development • The development of community technology access centers • Mentoring initiatives to expose disadvantaged, minority, and female students to technology careers
From The President: “No Child Left Behind” President George W. Bush’s Education blueprint, “No Child Left Behind”, addresses the digital divide. It focuses on streamlining programs run by various agencies into one source of funding. It proposes to…………,
Send More Dollars to Schools for Technology: • Consolidate technology grant programs • E-rate funds will be allocated by formula to states and school districts to ensure that more technology funds reach the classroom. • Funds will be targeted to high-need schools, including rural schools and schools serving high percentages of low-incomestudents.
Reduce Paperwork and Increase Flexibility: • Burdensome paperwork requirements will be eliminated by sending E-rate funds to schools by a formula instead of the current application process. • Flexibility will be increased by allowing funds to be used for purposes that include software purchases and development, wiring and technology infrastructure, and teacher training in the use of technology.
Offer Matching Grants for Community Technology Centers: • Provide Matching federal grants through the Community Development Block Grant Program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development • Establish Community Technology Centers in high poverty areas.
Key government agencies and their plans/programs for bridging the digital divide:
U.S. Department of Education • Community Technology Centers • Promote the development of model programs that demonstrate the educational effectiveness of technology in urban and rural areas and economically distressed communities. • CTCs provide computer and internet access as well as educational services using information technology. • Most people who visit CTCs do not own computers and many do not have access at school or work • September 1999, awarded 40 three-year grants, funded the creation of more than 100 new community technology centers. Year 2000 projects created 288 new CTCs (Including Selma, Alabama and Oakland, California) and expanded services at an additional 166 existing centers • Similar programs funded by HUD and National Science Foundation (See the Community Technology Project )
Title I • Provides funds to schools with disadvantaged students • 1993-94 school year, schools where 80 percent or more of their students were eligible for Title I had one computer for every 26 students, while schools where just 20 percent of students were eligible for Title I had one computer for every 13 students* • 1995-96 school year, poorest schools reported one computer for every 13 students, and the wealthiest one for every 10 students* • *Source: Quality Education Data
Federal Communications Commission • http://www.fcc.gov/learnnet/ • E-RATE, the Telecommunications Act of 1996. • First comprehensive revision of the USA's communications laws in more than 60 years. • The universal service section of this law, Section 254, helps schools and libraries obtain access to state of the art services and technologies at discounted rates. • Committed $3.65 billion to over 50,000 schools and libraries • 70% of the Year Two funding went to schools from the lowest income areas, and portions of those funds reached 70% of the schools under the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Department of Commerce • http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/part3.html • Provides leadership to encourage Industry to come forward with significant assistance: • Companies are supporting the creation of community technology centers, helping connect schools through "Net Days," and donating computers and software to schools and neighborhood centers. • Is the sponsor of the NTIA: • National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP) has funded pioneering Community Access Centers.
Computers for Learning http://www.computers.fed.gov/School/user.asp Transfers excess Federal computer equipment to schools, giving special consideration to those with the greatest need. The CFL website connects the registered needs of schools with available Government computer equipment. Federal agencies use the website to transfer computers based upon indications of need.
PBS National Outreach Plan • "Talking to Kids about Technology" • http://www.pbs.org/digitaldivide/learning.html • Encourages adults to share with young people the role technology plays in their professional and personal lives. • Partnerships with the National Urban League, Community Technology Centers Network (CTCnet) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America provide adults with a local community-based site where they can talk to young people, urging them to become technologically literate. • Provides materials for teachers and community leaders to use in influencing young people
National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NFIE) http://www.nfie.org • Provides grants and technical assistance to teachers and educators to improve student learning in public schools. • Key program of NFIE is The Road Ahead, a $3 million project to support the use of technology in the classroom, funded by the profits of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates' book, The Road Ahead.
IBM's Reinventing Education initiative • http://www.ibm.com/reinventing/education.html • Promotes broad-based systemic change in public schools. • IBM gave $35 million for research, technical assistance, consultation, hardware, and software to create customized solutions. • CCT is evaluating how each solution will overcome a systemic barrier to high academic achievement, identified by each site.
The Digital Divide Network • of the Benton Foundation • http://www.digitaldividenetwork.org/content/sections/index.cfm • The Benton Foundation serves as producer and coordinator of the Digital Divide Network. • Coordinates strong industry partnerships • Provides leadership to nonprofits and government organizations wishing to bridge the digital divide. • Serves as a catalyst for developing new, innovative digital divide strategies and for making current initiatives more strategic, more partner-based and more outcome-oriented, with less duplication of effort and more learning from each others' activities.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation • http://www.glf.org/about/default.htm • $350 million commitment to support education improvements including technology • Support model schools and districts; provide professional development opportunities for educators; and help to eliminate financial barriers to higher education by providing scholarships • Commitment to bring computers with Internet access to every public library serving a low-income community in the United States and Canada. The Library Programwas their first large-scale, private philanthropic effort. • -Studies show students and low-income patrons use library computers most frequently and for the longest periods of time. Also, library computers are the only source of access for more than half of those who are unemployed but looking for work.
Plugged-In • http://www.pluggedin.org • Is a community technology center with a mission “to ensure that everyone in East Palo Alto California has the opportunity to fully benefit from all that the information revolution has to offer.” • Operate three programs: Plugged In Enterprises, Plugged In Greenhouse, and the Technology Access Center. • Enterprises trains teenagers in the latest web design technology. The teenagers operate a web design business that creates web pages for community members and paying commercial clients,including Pacific Bell, OICW, and Sun Microsystems. • Greenhouse is a creative arts and technology studio for East Palo Alto children. It includes an after-school program, classroom partnerships, and special projects based on educational themes. • Technology Access Center is the community production studio, copy center, cyber-library, self-paced learning studio, and telecom center. It provides community members with access to computers, the internet and information that helps them "get things done."
More More private and government groups working to bridge the digital divide can be found at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology home page.
Bridging the digital divide requires: • Money • -For infrastructure (wiring, electrical power improvements, etc.) • -For staff development • -For technical support • -For curriculum development • -For equipment • Leadership • -To reduce paperwork • -To coordinate the efforts of the many interested parties • -To effect cultural change in disadvantaged communities
Bibliography • The Digital Divide, from PBS • http://www.pbs.org/digitaldivide/index.html • The eRate, a success story • http://www.fcc.gov/Speeches/Kennard/2000/spwek002.html • Falling Through the Net: The Digital Divide • http://www.digitaldivide.gov • No Child Left Behind • http://www.ed.gov/inits/nclb/partx.html • The Digital Divide Network • http://www.digitaldividenetwork.org/content/sections/index.cfm