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Are Cellphones a Good Solution for the Digital Divide?

// Posted by on 03/01/2014 (5:06 PM)

As college students we use technology in almost every aspect of our studying throughout the day. We type our papers on our laptops, read our textbooks on our ipads, and are in constant communication with our professors via email on… Read more

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As college students we use technology in almost every aspect of our studying throughout the day. We type our papers on our laptops, read our textbooks on our ipads, and are in constant communication with our professors via email on our smart phones. It seems unimaginable to think of coming to college and not having the basic knowledge of how to use Microsoft Word or even how to send an email. However in the article “The Digital Divide Is Still Leaving Americans Behind” it highlights a significant portion of our population that is still growing up illiterate on the computer. Reflecting back on my experiences not only enrolling in college but also registering in the beginning, not having access to technology and in particular computers would have put me at a significant disadvantage.

The article focuses on whether or not it was a human or civil right for students to have access to technology that is crucial in this day and age. Before learning more about this subject and having a discussion in class I would have never considered providing students with computers or Internet access a human right. However the more and more I think about it, the more I see it disadvantaging the students. It’s similar to not teaching lower income student’s math and then throwing them into a subject in college where math is the lining for all course material. While learning how to send an email is seemingly easier to learn than 12 years of algebra it still creates a huge gap between students. I have yet to encounter someone at the University of Richmond who is not literate on the computer. Is this because those underprivileged students couldn’t attend Richmond because of the lack of access of technology to apply or is it next to impossible to excel at school without the use of a computer.

 

One of the ways that some people were attempting to combat the lack of access to computers and Internet connection was with the introduction of smart phones. In a New York Times article “Industry Makes Pitch That Smartphones Belong in Classroom” it talks about an experiment that gave smartphones to students without computer access and they saw a significant increase in the quality of the students performance. It is important to note though that the study was funding by Qualcomm a maker of cell phone chips for smartphones and who wants to break into to education market. The study also discussed how the students were heavily monitored on their use of smartphones and the scope with which they were allowed to use their phones. Cell phones have always been seen as a huge distraction and I feel this isn’t going to change anytime soon. The New York Times article talked about how 10 states have school wide bans of cell phones for this very reason I feel like cell phones would be significantly harder to monitor without access to the phones activity directly. I also feel it may be frustrating sometimes to do a large amount of schoolwork on my phone. I couldn’t imagine typing out a long research paper on such a small screen and a small keyboard.

 

Whether cell phones are the right answer to weakening the digital divide or making sure every high school student is literate in computers before heading off to college something does need to change in the public education system in regards to access to technology. If we allow this divide to keep growing bigger it is only going to strengthen the income gap between classes because it is impossible to advance in the world today without a basic level of computer knowledge. Whether or not it is a human right or a civil right is still unclear and might remain unclear for years to come but the right to learn should be available to everyone no matter what.

Articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/16/technology/16phone.html?_r=2&

http://mashable.com/2013/08/18/digital-divide/


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i…Potty?

// Posted by on 01/28/2013 (12:10 AM)

 

Well, the world might finally be coming to an end. I can guarantee you that John Perry Barlow and William Gibson did not expect “cyberspace” to be accessible from the toilet. “The free-lancers and n’er do wells” who,… Read more

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Well, the world might finally be coming to an end. I can guarantee you that John Perry Barlow and William Gibson did not expect “cyberspace” to be accessible from the toilet. “The free-lancers and n’er do wells” who, according to Barlow, “found their home in cyberspace,” as it turns out have a new demographic joining them: toddlers. The iPotty, a new product developed and introduced at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show is as horrifying as it is self-explanatory. The Huffington Post describes the new product in their article here.

 

Anyone can appreciate a good newspaper or magazine in the old WC; hell, even iPhones give us our now standard 5-minute doses of entertainment.

Besides the fact that I’m starting to resent all the new products that are coming out with the “i” designation (by the way, what does that even mean? What’s next, iCereal? iToothbrushes? It’s a joke), the iPotty and its implications are remarkably annoying on their own. I’m sorry CTA digital, but this is a bright plastic piece of garbage. Is there really a need to teach toddlers how to use an iPad before they can use a toilet on their own? Are technological skills becoming as important as ditching diapers for the first time?
And even if I’m being overly critical of the implications that may or may not be associated with this joke of a product, how much time are toddlers even spending on the potty? Yes, I learned my fair share of computer skills in kindergarten when floppy disks reigned supreme and we played “Oregon Trail.” Yes, I think that iPads can be a valuable source of education for youngsters. And yes, Fred Turner has documented rather extensively the transformation from technology as a counter-culture to a so-called “cyberculture.” It worries me, though, that maybe this new iCulture is actually turning away from the dominant position that it once commanded and is beginning to become a new counter-culture? If I saw the iPotty in a child’s room, I would certainly raise some questions about the parenting.  Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t see a parent plopping their child down on an automated toiled showing a video of how to use the potty as being tantamount to actually teaching their child how to do something on their own. Is this newly emerging radical iCulture going to become the proverbial Tea Party of Apple, Inc.?

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What’s next for innovation?

// Posted by on 03/03/2012 (11:25 PM)

This Wednesday, March 7th Apple will announce its’ new Ipad 3 and people are already guessing what the new features will include. As with any Apple upgrade a longer battery life, larger memory capacity, faster loading and better resolution are… Read more

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This Wednesday, March 7th Apple will announce its’ new Ipad 3 and people are already guessing what the new features will include. As with any Apple upgrade a longer battery life, larger memory capacity, faster loading and better resolution are among the expected. But, since when has Apple been a company that does what people expect and leave it at that? While it may be considered more of a phone app there is talk that SIRI will be included in the Ipad 3. Which automatically brings up all the awesome albeit strange things SIRI is capable of take this for example.

Or if one asks SIRI where to hide a dead body it comes back with the locations of the nearest reservoirs, dumps, mines, and the like. How much fun was that to program?

Once more JCR Licklider is brought up in my mind as humans continue to innovate technology to better serve our needs, no matter how large or small the adjustments may be. It is no secret that with each new cool piece of technology humans attach themselves to it and become almost oblivious to the world around them but what does that mean for the future? This excerpt from Popular Mechanics Magazine’s article on 12 Ways the World Could Really End in 2012 has an interesting theory that evokes images of iRobot and the Terminator.

But one would certainly think that with sci-fi movies like that so apart of our culture that the creators of this technology would be doing everything they could to prevent “Judgement Day” as it were. It seems to be that a trend in my posts is developing where I have the urge to type something along the lines of we’ll just have to wait and see, meanwhile keeping a wary eye for that line Renee mentioned in one of her posts where it is simply too much.


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