DIGITAL AMERICA

Tag: Education


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Electronic Waste

// Posted by on 06/11/2015 (2:59 PM)

I never really thought about what happened to my old electronics when I got rid of them. After this week’s reading and videos I am shocked to know that our old electronics could be harming other people and their… Read more

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I never really thought about what happened to my old electronics when I got rid of them. After this week’s reading and videos I am shocked to know that our old electronics could be harming other people and their environment. I was also shocked to read that these electronic designers are only aiming for their product to last around 5 years.

I think that one way that we could improve the amount of electronics’ that are thrown away each year is by making the products with better parts. If these products are made to last then maybe people will want to keep them longer. I know that this might not always be the case because people may still want the newest product but we could try it. I think a good example is with IPhone’s. Rather than needing to get the actual newest phone, Apple allows you to download the newest operating system on the same older phone. This way you have the most advanced version, just maybe not the latest version of the phone itself.

I can say that I have craved the newest and latest electronic but I usually waited until mine bit the dust before I invested in a new one. I will say though that if I did invest in the newest and latest electronic I would sell/give mine to a friend or give it back to Verizon to refurbish rather than throwing it away. I heard about a program on the radio that allowed people to trade in their old phones to be sent overseas for the soldiers who were away. I think this is an awesome idea and that more companies should practice similar waste managements.

Another suggestion I would have to this crisis is making electronic companies have a department that tends to the old electronics that are being tossed. These company should be required to have a branch of their business that deals with breaking down these old products for recycle. If the company did not want to do this they could be required to give money to another company whose job is to dispose of old electronics.

I think that overall we need to become more aware of this growing issue. With the advancements in technology and want for the newest products I can only imagine how out of hand this problem is going to get in the coming years. People should be worried about this because of the sicknesses that people are encountering in underdeveloped countries. We are responsible for getting these people sick and they cannot afford to get the medical attention they need. Not only are we hurting these people but we are hurting the environment. We cannot recreate the environment so we need to be sure to take care of the one we have.


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Digital Divide

// Posted by on 06/06/2015 (12:36 PM)

I think that any organization that operates trading or sales to determine prices, manage risk or identify profitable opportunities would be concerned about the .001 of a cent. This desire for the .001 of a cent has pushed the financial… Read more

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I think that any organization that operates trading or sales to determine prices, manage risk or identify profitable opportunities would be concerned about the .001 of a cent. This desire for the .001 of a cent has pushed the financial trades to the limits of the speed of light. Computers are interacting with each other through algorithms trading among themselves and essentially leaving humans on the sidelines struggling to keep pace. The latency however, is important outside the trading markets and more and more organizations are seeking new ways to cut a few hundredths of a second off the speed it takes to transfer data.

In my opinion as financial securities become progressively complex, in order to be able to generate profits and reduce risk, it would demand that people understand the complex mathematical models that price securities. In addition, it would take a significant amount of engineering to build the infrastructure required to reduce latency and a team of highly skilled engineers designed many of the systems that are used in high frequency trading. These things alone would make trading extremely intimidating to the average individual.

Technology is racing ahead quickly and every day there are new advancements from fully automated cars, artificial intelligence systems that can understand and produce human speech, to robots that can do many of things humans can do. Overall, society has become more and more dependent on technology. While technology has improved our lives in several ways, it hasn’t done much to reduce the cost of health care or education.

Not everyone can work with technology and many relevant tasks require knowledge or advanced skills. Thus, technological advancements are leaving a large group of people behind. Many people are not getting the skills or support needed to participate in our rapidly changing economy or the changing society that is developing around them. Resulting in a greater divide and a need for better access to education.


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Experience 3–Books and Blisters

// Posted by on 10/15/2014 (12:56 PM)

I remember being pretty quiet in our class discussion of the digital divide. Perhaps it was because I had just been in a class where we discussed global poverty, or perhaps I had just had a conversation about the Ebola… Read more

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I remember being pretty quiet in our class discussion of the digital divide. Perhaps it was because I had just been in a class where we discussed global poverty, or perhaps I had just had a conversation about the Ebola epidemic in Africa. (Oh, the woes of a Leadership major.) But I distinctly remember being shocked at the fact that there was yet another terrible manifestation of the disparity between rich and poor in the world, and even in American society—and this time that it was one I had never really heard of before. It had left me speechless.

And while our experience last Wednesday afternoon was also disheartening and difficult to wrap my head around, I’m really glad we did it, and I’m thankful to the group that organized it. In essence, the experience was the digital divide in practice. The group divided the class into two teams, each meant to represent a group of students in a high school classroom similar to the ones journalist Jessica Goodman observes in Newark, New Jersey. In her piece “The Digital Divide is Still Leaving Americans Behind,” Goodman describes the term “digital divide” as the gap between people with and without access to the Internet and digital technology, and a divide that can be seen “among distinct regions and demographics.”

To recreate this divide among our class, the organizers of the experience gave us an assignment. We were instructed to answer the question, “Does digital copyrighting perpetuate inequality?” in an essay of 250 words or less. We were asked to use only reliable sources and to provide a reference list for our completed work. We were given a little over half an hour to complete the project in our groups of four. The final parameter: each group had restricted access to digital technology. Group A had limited access—these students were allowed to use a smartphone with a notes app and Internet access and a library computer in a specified section to type up their completed work. Group B, my group, was given no access—we were forbidden from using laptops, smartphones and the Internet in general, and could only use the library computers in the same specified section to type and print our finished essay.

Needless to say, the task was daunting. We were forced to rely on the help of a librarian to complete our research, and even as knowledgeable as she was, she relied on her computer and the digital card catalog to look up sources that might be helpful to us. My group ended up jogging across campus to the law library to find books on copyrighting and inequality—we got blisters, endured several dirty looks from law students and lost one of our teammates among the shelves of thick law textbooks. When we finally located the books we were looking for, we had about ten minutes to skim hundreds of pages of texts, find relevant information to write about and run back to the other library to type it up and print it out. It was inconvenient, stressful and generally unpleasant. I’m not sure what the “essay” that we eventually turned in really said, but I’d be surprised if it received a passing grade from any honest high school teacher.

And yet, again, I’m grateful that I had this experience. Perhaps I’m a more hands-on learner than I’ve ever thought, or maybe I just couldn’t imagine the real difficulties of restricted access to technology because I’ve never experienced them.

Displaying 20141008_135102.jpg      Displaying 20141008_140538.jpg

Above: As we begin our trek to the law library…this is before we started running. Below: Struggling to skim the books for relevant information to answer our essay question with 10 minutes remaining.

As Mark Poster discusses in his book Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines: “People object to having not enough information, to a lack of access to information, to exclusion from sources of information, to the unequal distribution of information. The assumption in this position is that information correlates directly with life chances. The more information one has, the better one can live” (Poster 153-54). This activity really put Poster’s theoretical work into more concrete terms, and certainly convinced me that the “assumption” of a direct relationship between opportunity and information delineated here is an accurate one. A continuation of this point would be that the tools needed to access Poster’s “information,” like the computers that house the digital card catalog in the library, also allow people to live better, and in this case learn and work more easily.

Thinking back again to our first class discussion of the digital divide, I recall that I struggled to clearly articulate my objection to Vinton Cerf’s article “Internet Access is Not a Human Right.” I also remember that in reading the article, I was particularly challenged by his attempt to articulate the difference between a human right and a “tool” to fulfill a human right. The author creates a metaphor: “For example, at one time if you didn’t have a horse it was hard to make a living. But the important right in that case was the right to make a living, not the right to a horse.” And yet I remained confused…if you need the horse to make a living, meaning that you’re jobless and maybe even starving and homeless without one, how is it not a part of the equation? Can you just dismiss the horse, the Internet or any other “tool” as unnecessary, or declare that it should not be made available to all people, with a discussion of language? This seems to me like a loophole, and it seems to be missing the point.

.As this experience demonstrated, equal access to the Internet and to other digital technologies creates, or inhibits, equal opportunity. It seems like Americans would agree that education is a right we’re granted as citizens, but if you need access to the Internet and digital technology to make the most of your education and to even complete your assignments at the most basic level, doesn’t it follow that digital “tools” are an essential component to your “right” to education?

My blisters have (almost) healed, but I’m sure that I won’t quickly forget this experience with the digital divide. I’m actually almost thankful that I was in the “Access Denied” group. Being subjected to the frustrating effects of the digital divide has left me more able to articulate my thoughts about the problem—and very confident that in today’s high-tech world, digital access is certainly a civil right, and one that remains unfulfilled for many Americans.

The end of our experience–we discuss our mistakes while Brendan struggles to type our muddled assignment


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Exploration of the Digital Divide: Phase 1

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (6:24 PM)

Over the course of the semester, we have continuously observed and discussed how influential and, often times, imperative technology is in our current society.  Our culture is undoubtedly a digital one as the Internet and… Read more

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Over the course of the semester, we have continuously observed and discussed how influential and, often times, imperative technology is in our current society.  Our culture is undoubtedly a digital one as the Internet and new technology are deeply ingrained into almost every aspect of our lives.  What I would like to continue to investigate for my final project is the role of technology in education, primarily in AmericaStudents in impoverished neighborhoods and who attend public community schools do not have even the most basic access to technology and the Internet.  Without technology, many of them are never able to learn what most of us take for granted: how to save a word document, how to choose a font, or how to properly format an essay.  In short, they are devoid of a kind of “common” knowledge that is seemingly necessary for survival in our digital age.  In turn, it these young adults are thrown into a world with a significant disadvantage.

 

-Considering the data above, is is apparent how low-income individuals have significantly less Internet access than their wealthy counterparts.  Without Internet access, these individuals tend to use the Web  for mostly entertainment purposes rather than online learning & educational opportunities.  

After many class discussions and course readings we have done throughout the semester, it has become apparent just how large of a gap there is in our society in regards online access.  This can be seen in especially in K-12 educationTechnology and the Internet have become so connected to our everyday lives, it seems almost impossible to successfully function in our world without them.  More than eighty percent of the Fortune 500 companies require online job applications, and even national chains like Foot Locker no longer allow potential employees to apply in person. With companies quickly beginning to digitize their application processes, it is/will continue to make it incredibly difficult for individuals without access to the Internet or a computer to have a fair chance of employment.

Furthermore, how is this affecting students’ education?  Without access to technology or the Internet, there is a world of knowledge and research that is completely absent from school curriculum.  The majority of students in high-poverty neighborhoods and schools do not have access to technology or the Internet at home or at school, let alone the mere knowledge of how to properly utilize the digital tools of the 21st Century.  Is this fair?  For me, the answer is no.  Most of the kids living in low-income households have parents who are working two or three jobs to make it by.  They are at an immediate disadvantage to their more affluent peers as they are not exposed to the many learning opportunities that other students have access to from an early age.  For many, technology is exciting, especially in education and something that needs to be incorporated into every classroom in America.

The knowledge of how to use technology and the Internet have indeed become a form of modern literacy and will only continue to become even more so.   High school students that do not have the opportunity to learn how to use it and feel comfortable in doing so are deprived of knowledge and opportunities that the majority of our generation has already developed.  Furthermore, this lack of access limits students from a whole world of knowledge and research that the Internet supports.  It seems as though doors are closed to them before they even know they exist.  I feel that, being a college student who has had unlimited access to technology and the Internet for the majority of my life, it is my responsibility to explore and understand the inequality that exists in our education system.  I think that a large part of my generation is ignorant to the fact of how many kids are without these digital privileges and how lucky we are to have had access to these mediums throughout our education.

By focusing on this particular topic, I hope to learn more about this issue and widen my perspective as well as help to educate my classmates and peers.  Phase 1 explores various opinions and stories on the “Digital Divide” in American Education and I would like to  further explore the technological gaps in our educational system and research more about the statistics and movements to make access to technology in schools a staple.  In Phase 2, I would like to continue to explore the ways in which technology affects students in the classroom.  Does it truly make a difference?  What methods are being used in high-poverty school districts?  What is realistic when thinking about changes we make in the future?  If we consider the ability to know how to use technology as a form of literacy, there all endless questions that arise.  Should all schools be required to provide their students with certain technology and access to the Internet?  What effect does it have on them if they do not?  Is it a human right for underage individuals in America to have this basic access?  For my final project, I will consult a variety of sources to delve deeper into the complexities and questions that this topic poses.

*A single assignment I would like for all of you to complete is to write a small piece on whether or not you think basic access to technology and the Internet should be considered a human right for students in grades K-12 in America.  If you do, please also include how you would contribute to solving the problem of the “Digital Divide” in the American education system (it can be anything you want…A small or big idea!)  I want to post your responses on my blog so be thoughtful & creative!

In responding to this question, keep in mind all of the way in which technology & the Internet effects one’s technical skills, web literacy, economic skills, and self-confidence!

**Email me your responses and any additional feedback you have on my blog so far (link below):

http://cgandryc.tumblr.com

(Also, for some of my posts you need to click on the title to see my full entry…don’t know why)

Sources for Graphs:

http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/11/24/use-of-the-internet-in-higher-income-households/

 


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Internet to Take Over the World?

// Posted by on 04/18/2013 (4:50 AM)

Is it possible that the Internet could grow so large that every living human being, all 7 billion of us, would be online? In a recent article the possibility is introduced by  Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google.… Read more

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Is it possible that the Internet could grow so large that every living human being, all 7 billion of us, would be online? In a recent article the possibility is introduced by  Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google. Mr. Schmidt states that approximately 2 billion people in the world use the Internet today, he then goes on to hypotheses that all 7 billion people will be on the Internet as early as 2020.

This idea seems almost absurd to me. Is it really possible that the entire world, quite literally, will be able to connect to each other truly creating one globalized earth? Although there is no definite answer just yet I find it interesting to imagine what life would be like. The Internet is already a driving factor in the way I live my life, I am constantly using it to find information and communicate with others. The Internet is an amazing 3rd space that is already capable of producing amazing ideas and advances in the world today. I can only image what we will be capable of if the Internet reaches every person possible.

Of course with any radical idea there will be obstacles and set backs. The article seems to bring Schmidts dream to a screeching halt when it asks “With poor and developing nations around the world isolated by crumbling or nonexistent Web infrastructures, and others hindered by factors ranging from remote geography to government censorship, is Schmidt’s vision overly optimistic?”

At first I had no answer to this question but then I began to believe once again in the power of the Internet. As the Internet expands new capabilities arise that used to be non existent. I believe that the solution to this problem of limited Internet access will be answered by the Internet itself as it continues to grow and create new networks and advances in technology. And already we are starting to see possible solutions to this problem. Geeks Without Frontiers  is an organization that donates computers and “related technology” to 3rd world countries. In addition the article introduces another very interesting project backed by Samsung. This project is working to open solar powered schools in Africa.

I am very interested to see if Mr. Schmidts claim that 7 billion people will be connected to the internet by 2020 comes true. I am even more interested to see what happens after that, what great advances occur and how life will change when the whole world is available to you from your lap.


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Digital Education

// Posted by on 04/01/2013 (12:47 AM)

The digital world as a third space exists globally as an alternative universe for many users. The network is global, made up of infinite localities. Local problems now have the opportunity to receive attention in a global forum and attract… Read more

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The digital world as a third space exists globally as an alternative universe for many users. The network is global, made up of infinite localities. Local problems now have the opportunity to receive attention in a global forum and attract attention through that outlet. Digital culture pervades much of our daily lives at University of Richmond and I believe the same is becoming increasingly true across the nation and across the world. Every day people are finding new ways to use this digital space to improve or change their situation in their current physical space. Right now, look at education in the US. It’s no secret that college in the US is expensive. Many students will graduate in debt from student loans and countless others will not be able to afford college in the first place. But what if all it took to get an education was a laptop?

Salman Khan, a former analyst at a hedgefund, founded Khan Academy, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to provide “a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.” The Khan Academy was voted one of the 50 best websites of 2011 by TIME Magazine. There are over 2000 videos in 27 languages that cover a range of subjects and topics. Khan came up with the idea for his organization while tutoring his cousins remotely via YouTube videos. Now, because of Khan’s organization, millions of people worldwide have access to this digital classroom. What also makes this classroom unique is the structure; the student learns at his or her own pace, meaning that no student is left behind.

In this TEDTalk from Khan, he discusses his inspiration and vision for the Academy and the ways it can influence what is happening in the physical space for education.

What are the implications of a shift to digital education? Will college attendance numbers decrease? Is there a reliable measure of success from digital education versus a “physical” education? For those without the time or resources to earn a full degree at a university, Khan Academy could be an opportunity for upward social mobility. An education opens the doors to a whole range of careers and access to other connected resources. Where do you think there is the most potential for this type of digital education? Could it help immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere to earn better wages and fill more specialized positions? Is digital education useful for US citizens?


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The US Message Board & Online Anonymity (Phase 1) With Link to Final Project Blog

// Posted by on 04/14/2012 (5:09 PM)

Click here to visit my final research project blog…

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Throughout this semester the topic of online anonymity keeps resurfacing in different avenues of the digital landscape. In my project, I have immersed myself in the US Message Board website.… Read more

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Click here to visit my final research project blog…

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Throughout this semester the topic of online anonymity keeps resurfacing in different avenues of the digital landscape. In my project, I have immersed myself in the US Message Board website. The US Message Board is an online political forum that includes many different categories of politically related topics (such as: politics, religion, healthcare, conspiracy theories, race/racism) as well as more miscellaneous/general topics (such as: sports, food and wine, etc). While some users can choose taglines that reflect pieces of their assumed-to-be-real names, most choose fictional tag names, incorporating to some extent the idea of anonymity.

Many people critique the educational value, or lack thereof, of discussion forums like US Message Board. During my digital travels, I have been reading discussions while thinking about the following questions: What causes people to feel this way? Do users accredit their posts’ information or educational background? How do users interact and are discussions advanced? How does the idea of anonymity play into the discussions? Would they be different without it?

When I began my immersion in the US Message Board (USMB) site, I began by reading their “Rules & Regulations”. While the overall tone of the page at times appeared humorous and sarcastic, there were basic rules that they regularly enforce. Among them: linking information to sources (citing), no pornographic/obscene/indecent images, all users share the right to express their own beliefs/faiths/opinions, and every user must not reveal personal contact information about themselves or others (full name, address, phone number, and e-mail address). This page ends with, “Currently whipping the hamsters to keep things running.” In a way, USMB acts a little like 4chan – except it doesn’t tolerate porn. Every user utilizes an anonymous identity, and they can say whatever they want (though USMB doesn’t tolerate as much language as 4chan does). After reading these rules and concluding USMB members might be like 4chan users, I braved myself for some low-level educational value in the discussions. However, the topics on USMB actually hold relevance and importance; unlike say the “Sexy Beautiful Women” category on 4chan.

Since the USMB features so many different discussion topics, I decided to narrow down my investigation to the current debate over taxes. The discussion titled, “So people who earn a million a year pay a lower tax rate than the middle class” has been my latest investigation. While the first post presented how much a person earning a million dollars a year would pay in income tax versus a person earning fifty thousand dollars, shutting down the seemingly naïve claim of the discussion topic. Then you get someone commenting about how most Americans do not pay their fair share, then comes a user commenting “Obama bin lying…”. This combination of substantial, “fact” filled posts with random comments that don’t seem to add anything has appeared to be a common pattern in USMB discussions.

However, I have found (much to my surprise) many posts that seem to contain factual, relevant information that sparks questions and feedback that advance the conversation (not always the original discussion topic, but the current conversation of the board). Contrary to the USMB’s Rules and Regulations, many of these statistics, “facts”, or quotes ever appear to be cited to referred to another source. How can I accept these claims to be true? Many of the USMB users seem to either agree with other users’ uncited claims – perhaps by either knowing them to be true (if it could be considered general tax knowledge) or by blindly accepting and trusting their community’s members.

That being said, there are some comments by users who seem to have the untrusting reader in mind. One user provided links to various news articles, providing a point of information he summarized below each. While you didn’t have to agree with his conclusions, the sources he was basing them off were there for you to see. This brave user was consequently shut down immediately by the next user who picked specific points from the various articles to dismantle the other user’s claims. Poor guy.

While people like Stewart Brand envisioned online communities to be a place of trust, growth, and educational expansion, I cannot confirm this ideal for the USMB – at least not yet. While many opinions are made on the site, the replies seem to most often spark a back and forth bashing of different viewpoints, never opening up the table for compromise or an understanding of opposition.

In a series of negative reviews of USMB, retired users explain how much the site has changed since they initially began using it. The changes described remind me much of what many of the hackers we read about in Vanity Fair. Many of the USMB users became trolls and hackers who threatened other users via private messages with physical violence – including rape. Other threats were made verbally (well typed) with obscene language, which is tolerated on the site due to users’ protest for “freedom of speech”.

As of now, it seems my original doubts about anonymous online communities being a place for positive educational growth have been mostly confirmed. While I, like retired users, admit to many discussion posts containing educational, worthy information, sometimes it seems these posts are overshadowed by the hackers who use it for harm or uneducated users who post solely to undermine opinions not aligned with their own.

In the next phase of my project, I want to explore more discussions on taxes in other digital spaces. I will compare discussions utilizing anonymous identities versus real ones. How will the discussions be different? Will people be more concerned with citing their sources in an effort to legitimize their comments? Will people be able to criticize other posts as easily as they do in the USMB? My thoughts now are that when people post under the anonymous mask (and without source references), they feel much more confident and free to write whatever they wish, while users utilizing a true identity take more precaution in their online posts.


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Shift in Educational Tactic–Computers in the Classroom

// Posted by on 02/14/2012 (11:12 AM)

Yesterday the New York Times published “Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops”– an article about one school districts new method of teaching. All of the students in grades 4-12 are lent an Apple laptop to… Read more

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Yesterday the New York Times published “Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops”– an article about one school districts new method of teaching. All of the students in grades 4-12 are lent an Apple laptop to use throughout the school year. The method of teaching has shifted to revolve around the utilization of the laptop because as the superintendant, Mark Edwards, explained, “ It’s about changing the culture of instruction—preparing students for their future, not our past”.

This thought process if profound. It is undoubtedly that case that these students will need to use computers in order to contribute to society in any scale of a career. So why not engage them in incorporating computers in a way other than e-mail and social networking sites and expose them to the extensive power behind the tool.

Not only is this program preparing students for a life in the digital world, but it has proven to be successful in teaching students. The graduation rate of high school students has increased from 80% to 90% between 2008 and 2011. Test scores have increased at an equally impressive rate—88% of students met proficiency standard on state tests last year compared to 73% in 2008.

This program certainly does have its costs. In order to meet the financial demands of purchasing all of these computers, many teaching jobs had to be cut. This led to an increase in classroom size from 18 to 30. However, the teachers who were cut were those who were against bring technology into the classroom and the computers allow for more productive independent and group work. It also provides immediate feedback. Another benefit of the computers is that it allows shy students to participate more in small groups or through the computer. They do not have to worry about being embarrassed as they struggle through a math problem on the board in front of the classroom.

Not only does this program reap benefits in the classroom, but it also brings computers into homes that would otherwise not have access to them. The Mooreville County is fairly poor and most students do not have access to internet at home. The program allows parents to purchase internet for their home through the school. For only $10/month.

Is this the future of American education? The Mooreville schools frequently have visitors from across the country hoping to learn something from this new system. It is only a matter of time before more and more schools adapt this educational approach.


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Stratification of Children and Technology

// Posted by on 02/12/2012 (3:09 PM)

It is evident that digital media is becoming more and more important in today’s society. Being able to type, utilize Word documents and navigate the internet are becoming as essential as reading, writing, and basic arithmetic. I imagine that many… Read more

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It is evident that digital media is becoming more and more important in today’s society. Being able to type, utilize Word documents and navigate the internet are becoming as essential as reading, writing, and basic arithmetic. I imagine that many of us take for granted that we grew up with computers in our homes. We were even encouraged to enhanced our reading and mathematic skills through the computer with games such as the Jump Start series.

A closer look at the community around us will show that not everyone is as fortunate. Take a look at this article about two University of Richmond graduates who have committed themselves to helping underprivileged students learn the essential computer skills.

It is important for everyone in society to have a solid understanding of computers. Technology is another area where our nation is becoming stratified. The 10 year old I baby sit has an iPad, while his peer across town has never turned a computer on before. What implications will this have for our future? Both children need to be able to contribute to society, but how can they if they don’t know how to use a computer?

 


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