Question: What resources exist and how can we help students, who may not have access to technology at home, become competent users of technology systems?
ISTE Standard 6’s objective is to have “students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations” (ISTE Standard 6). It is assumed nowadays that students intuitively know how to navigate a variety of technology systems, and are able to access technology to complete school work. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. According to Gowen (2009), only two-thirds of American households have internet accessibility in the home. This leaves one-third of our households without access to internet, which is detrimental to our students’ academic performance. McLoughlin (2011) posits that it is not sufficient that students learn how to navigate a variety of technology tools, rather they need to learn how to apply it to real world scenarios.
As more jobs require increased proficiency in technology systems, and schools require students to be using technology, a large group of students are at a disadvantage if they are unable to access and learn how to use these technologies. The article 6 Ways to Support Students Without Internet Access at Home outlines ways teachers can support students who may lack technological skills due to the fact that they do not have internet or technology at home. DiMarco (n.d.) first states that students without technology are at a disadvantage because 1) they lack research skills, 2) they lack networking skills, 3) they face greater challenges in obtaining a higher education degree, 4) they face difficulty finding and applying for jobs, and 5) they are unqualified for many jobs. To help our students, DiMarco (n.d.) suggests that we can use heterogeneous partnering, where a tech savvy student is paired with a student who is less familiar with technology. Teachers can also create a list of places that offer free wi-fi and computer access, and distribute it to students. Students can then go use the free resources that exist. Another suggestion is to open the computer lab for an hour after school so students can familiarize themselves with technology. DiMarco also suggested that students can communicate with extended family in the same area and use the technology they may have. I think this would also work with close friends. Additionally, DiMarco says that teachers should “spin intermittent access as a normal thing”. Finally, DiMarco encourages teachers to turn this into an opportunity for project-based learning by having students write proposals or collect donations to help them gain access.
It is important that teachers recognize that not every student is able to access technology, and in order to better serve our students, we need to consider ways in which we can help students become proficient users of technology. By adopting some of these strategies, we can prepare our students for success in both the academic world and real world settings.
DiMarco, M. (n.d.). 6 ways to support students without internet access at home. Retrieved from: teachthought.com/technology/6-ways-support-students-without-internet-access-home/
Gowen, A. (2009). Without ready access to computers, students struggle. Retrieved from: washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/05/AR2009120501746.html
McLoughlin, C. (2011). What ICT-related skills and capabilities should be considered central to the definition of digital literacy? World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, 2011(1), 471-475.