Assignment #4: Book Review
The Digital Divide
By: David Bolt
Bibliographic information in APA
Bolt, D.B. (2000) Digital divide: Computers and our children’s future. New York, NY: TV
Goals of the book
One goal of the Digital Divide was arguing technology plays a role in widening gaps in race, gender, education, and employment. Bolt discusses some of the factors that drive the gap in all of these parts of life. Originally this book was based off of a series that was completed in 1997 by David Bolt in association with PBS. He interviewed educators, government officials, and technology professionals to support and argue his findings. Essentially technology could increase the gap between those who are able to obtain things and those who cannot.
Bolt discussed overall implications of technology in all realms of education and employment. He also discussed how they affect both gender and race by providing specific statistics. For example, in general African-American and Latinos have less computers and internet access than European-American. These reasons are not only because of geographical location but also lack of content for their interests and historical experience. All components of race, gender, education, and employment are intertwined. They are like dominos set up in a circle, if one falls, they all go down.
Also, Bolt broke down each component of the digital divide and discussed them. My favorite one was the essences of education. He brought up the fact that access to technology is not equally available to all students, educators do not use technology the same, and technology is not useful to everyone. In other words, technology could increase the gap in education causing it to be part of the educational gap as well. No two teachers are created the same and not all teachers will jump on the technology band wagon. Even at my own place of employment there are teachers that are afraid of technology and refuse to use it while others, like me, embrace the technology we have. I do not have any crazy technology in my classroom except for a projector and a laptop. But I was able to use it to my advantage in any way possible.
In addition, Bolt brings one of the best key ideas of the whole book to light, if technology is going to be the new teaching way, then all schools need to be provided with the same technology, training, software, and continuous support. If schools are not given the training and support or updates then there will just be wasted money and wasted advancements. This also raises the questions, do we use these computers as an extension of pen and paper while applying them to the current curriculum or do we drop the old curriculum and teach students how to be part of the technological future?
Bolt raised many issues with the digital divide. The major weakness of his book was that he never provided a perfect solution. Bolt mentioned several organizations and groups doing things to help improve or decrease the gap but none of his suggestions were total solutions. One solution Bolt mentioned was Plugged in. Plugged in is a California based company geared to giving computer access and training for bridging the gaps. Companies like these provide temporary solutions or solutions that only affect a small part of the population.
Also, Bolt brought up the point that technology changes the work environment. If the workers aren’t trained or given the ability to be trained then there is another gap that is created. Technology is rapidly changing day to day and it affects multiple generations of people. If the oldest generation is not brought up to speed then they may be left behind as the newer generations continue to flourish. Bolt provides insight as to some groups and organizations that help adults in training and technology but not everyone will use these resources to their advantage.
Aside from the technology gap and employment gap, educational gaps are also thrown in to the mix without solutions. It creates the Education/Digital divide. In my opinion, no two teachers are created equal. With that being said you may provide the technology for two sets of teachers but both sets will not use the technology the same way. In other words no set of resources are created or used equally. So as technology is advanced some teachers will jump on the bandwagon and move forwards others will look the other way and ignore the advancement.
Implications for education in general, and for science education
I believe this book was meant to broaden the understanding of technology in education for educators and those who read the Digital Divide. Without the understanding of how to use this resource to its fullest capacity many opportunities may be missed. Missed opportunities widen the digital gap. I think the goal of this book was to bring awareness to the digital gap. If more people are aware of the issue then it will be brought up in conversation. More conversation may lead to more advancement in decreasing the digital divide. With this knowledge I can make sure that I implement as much usable technology as possible into my lessons. I will try to keep the technology easily accessible and easy to understand. I believe this will decrease the gap and by providing training for the technology I use will allow students to easily replicate.
How might you use what you've learned in your use of technology in your teaching
Bolt brought up many issues about technology and how they can separate those who have and those who don’t have. In my own classroom I have basic technology (projector, laptop, speakers) but compared to many this is advanced technology. I have used it to my advantage in the classroom in order to enhance my lessons. Whenever students have questions in which I don’t have the answers to I use the internet right away. I have stopped lessons to answer student’s questions that pertain to the topic I was covering. It has worked out in the past and I hope to continue to use my laptop and other (future) technology to enhance my lessons.
Reading the digital divide has made me more aware of the divide among students who have the resources and students who don’t have the resources. I now understand the issue that is at hand more and I plan to use technology and train my students as much as possible. I would like to make technology part of my life and teaching as well as the student’s lives. Technology is most likely going to be the way of the future especially in the work force.