When I think about Connected Learning the question that I continue to ponder is, “How can educators utilize technology in the classroom to make learning more accessible for all of our students?” There is no doubt that we all know the value of technology, but as a fourth grade teacher it is a constant question of how can using technology serve me, and my students best?
More important than the question above, however, when I think about Connected Learning and the digital world, I feel the most passionate about equity amongst low-socioeconomic families. Without access, there can be no equity, so how can we provide access for all of our students, even those in painfully underfunded districts? We can talk forever about how engaging technology is to children, and how connected learning creates driven students, but much of our discussion should also be based around getting the proper tools to all students.
It is stated that nearly 1/3 of low-income households with school-age children lack high-speed internet connection. This seriously limits access to educational opportunities and new learning tools essential for students to be successful. Sometimes referred to as the “homework gap,” this issue disproportionately impacts minority students as well as those in rural states like Maine and West Virginia, where high-speed Internet connections are not always accessible or affordable. Even before taking this Connected Learning class, we know that with internet, comes knowledge. The internet has no boundaries. Give low-socioeconomic families the internet and you’re buying a huge part of their education, giving them equity. I think of the internet as a “utility” at this point. Similar to water, cable, power, and garbage removal, I see internet access to be equally essential. You can barely live with out internet. How do you stay connected to people? Connected to news? Think of all the things you can barely do anymore without internet. Paying bills is online. Booking appointments with the doctor is often so hard to do over the phone that offices are requiring online scheduling. Life without the internet is full of boundaries. The internet, however, has no boundaries so how can we give this access to everybody?!
Next, another thing I have on my mind is the issue of boys vs. girls in education. With more technology, and concepts of engineering, girls are being given more opportunities to thrive in these areas that are not so “traditionally natural” for girls. Is the digital age giving girls more opportunities in fields based around science, technology, and engineering? Is a females equity in scientific careers increasing as students are given more opportunities to digitally learn at young ages?
With these questions in mind, the direction I’m going is focused on how public education can bring equity to the kids who often need it most, and how can connected learning reform a broken system.