We Should Be A Nation of Digital Opportunity for All

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ISTE has a wonderful template of the digital age learner. It works for those students lucky enough to be in the right environment, the right school, and with a teacher who is looking toward the future with academic support of new technology.

standards-poster-500full Here is the template. It is gorgeous. Get it for your school, for your community and for those who are interested in helping to create digital age learners.
The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. The standards are designed for use by educators across the curriculum, with every age student, with a goal of cultivating these skills throughout a student’s academic career. Both students and teachers will be responsible for achieving foundational technology skills to fully apply the standards. The reward, however, will be educators who skillfully mentor and inspire students to amplify learning with technology and challenge them to be agents of their own learning.

This is an amazing document that should be shared and given to school boards, community activist, informal education teachers, and parents. I have a powerpoint that explains all of these. How do we make the change to help “all students ” to have these skills and qualities?

Many schools and communities are  in denial about their state of technology . I live in Washington DC, and I heard the CTO of the city say that all of our students are being well served. This was at an IoT conference with global citizens. I didn’t know what to do or say. I assume that what she said , is what she was told by the school system in DC.

We the people, we the public, we the teachers need to be confrontational about the lack of those who are digitally denied.

We the teachers ,need to be educated toward the transformative policies that ISTE has shared. There are too many people who misunderstand. They think that all students are being well served.

On December 13, Free Press published Digital Denied: The Impact of Systemic Racial Discrimination on Home-Internet Adoption. The report, written by Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner, examines the racial divide in home-internet adoption and exposes how structural racial discrimination contributes to it. Below is an edited summary of the report written by Dana Floberg — Free Press’ C. Edwin Baker fellow — and reprinted with permission.

Internet access is a necessity for engaging in our communities, searching for employment and seeking out educational opportunities — but too many people are still stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. And that divide disproportionately impacts people of color.

Indeed, the racial divide in home-internet adoption — including both wired and wireless service — leaves people of color behind the digital curve. People of color comprise 32 million of the 69 million people in the United States who lack any form of home-internet access. Free Press research exposes this undeniable gap and explains how structural racial discrimination contributes to it.

Systemic discrimination creates serious income inequality in this country. Whites have far higher average incomes than Blacks or Latinos. Low-income families are less able and willing to buy internet subscriptions. And many families who are willing to pay for service find they can’t due to racially biased barriers like credit scoring. Given how stark racial and ethnic income discrepancies are, it’s no surprise that people of color lag behind in internet adoption.

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Income differences explain some of the racial divide, but not all of it.

U.S. Census data on income and internet adoption paint a clear picture:

  • 49 percent of households with incomes below $20,000 have wired or wireless internet, but nearly 90 percent of households with incomes above $100,000 do.
  • 81 percent of Whites have home-internet access, compared to 70 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of Blacks.

Free Press’ report demonstrates that the racial-adoption gap persists even after we account for differences in income and a host of other demographic factors. For example, there is a divide between people who are in the same income brackets but in different racial or ethnic groups. The gap is widest for people earning less than $20,000: Fifty-eight percent of Whites in this group have some form of home internet, compared to just 51 percent of Hispanics and 50 percent of Blacks.web_header_3

There is research that tells us how to reach and teach the students. It is here.

There are students who are of tribal, rural, distant and urban areas who are affected. They are all kinds and all colors. Years ago, when the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council formed policy ( Kickstart) we acknowledged these areas of difficulty and sought to solve the problems. Politics has gotten in the way sometimes.

There are other sources , such as that of the George Lucas Educational Foundation that give examples of what helps and what hinders. Here is a special set of blogs on the topic.

Research and templates inform. We the public need to hold the school systems and communities to the standards so that all children benefit from the uses and skills enabling them to be digital citizens . But parents may not know or understand the uses of technology well.

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Common Sense Education
Common Sense Education provides digital literacy and citizenship programs to school communities to empower students to harness technology for learning and life.They just published a report “The Digital Lives of Minority Youth”. But this report, The Common Sense Census Plugged in Parents of Tweens and Teens 2016 matches nicely with the ISTE report.
Plan of Action?
Print out the template and take it to the next PTA meeting. Share copies of it with parents and have a speaker to access it online. Have a discussion about it and plan action for your school and community.
See if your school has an ISTE member. ISTE has a conference where these types of action and study of the topic is a part of how they serve their members. Hopefully, the school will sponsor a teacher to attend and be a part of ISTE and other technology minded groups. There are also state groups and regional groups that help in outreach.
Is there a low-cost provider who serves your community? If so get some community people working to help them with outreach. Make sure that the provider meets the needs of the community. There are many ways to do this.
 Query the school board and if possible involve people in a presentation about this topic. Use resources that fit your community.

Creating Opportunity for All

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 CS is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility. By some estimates, just one quarter of all the K-12 schools in the United States offer CS with programming and coding, and only 28 states allow CS courses to count towards high-school graduation, even as other advanced economies are making CS available for all of their students. The White House aims to change that. There is a new initiative.

Why?

The Opportunity

Providing access to CS is a critical step for ensuring that our nation remains competitive in the global economy and strengthens its cybersecurity. Last year, there were over 600,000 tech jobs open across the United States, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in CS-related fields. The Federal government alone needs an additional 10,000 IT and cybersecurity professionals, and the private sector needs many more. CS is not only important for the tech sector, but also for a growing number of industries, including transportation, healthcare, education, and financial services, that are using software to transform their products and services. In fact, more than two-thirds of all tech jobs are outside the tech sector.

How Do We Prepare Students? Teachers ? The Community?

One of the problems is the lack of access, interest and the knowledge of computational thinking and learning and math. There also has been a limited supply of well trained teachers for all. Most of us are aware that there are teachers in rural, urban, tribal, minority based poor communities who don’t have a computer teacher anywhere near a school. There may be teachers who are available in after school program. The Coding week also gives some impetus to making a change but sadly , it may be only for that week. It is an excellent start. It is a way to get things rolling.

Computational thinking and cyber learning and math… we must start at the lower levels to be able to graduate those with the skills that they will need to meet a high school computer teacher.

Coding?Coding in the Classroom: What is Coding and Why is it so Important?

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Computational Thinking?
“Computational Thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating problems and their solutions so that the solutions are represented in a form that can be effectively carried out by an information-processing agent.”

Cuny, Snyder, Wing

Say it again? What was that?

Computational thinking is a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science. To flourish in today’s world, computational thinking has to be a fundamental part of the way people think and understand the world.

Computational thinking means creating and making use of different levels of abstraction, to understand and solve problems more effectively.

Computational thinking means thinking algorithmically and with the ability to apply mathematical concepts such as induction to develop more efficient, fair, and secure solutions.

Computational thinking means understanding the consequences of scale, not only for reasons of efficiency but also for economic and social reasons.

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There have been people working in this field for a very long time with limited success.  One must thank people like Henry Neeman, R.N. Panoff , Concord.org and those who sought to broaden engagement to all with limited resources. Scott Lathrop has certainly impacted broadening engagement.

Fortunately, there is a growing movement being led by parents, teachers, states, districts, and the private sector to expand CS education. The President’s Computer Science for All Initiative builds on these efforts by:

Providing $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million directly for districts in his forthcoming Budget to increase access to K-12 CS by training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships. The funding will allow more states and districts to offer hands-on CS courses across all of their public high schools, get students involved early by creating high-quality CS learning opportunities in elementary and middle schools, expand overall access to rigorous science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) coursework, and ensure all students have the chance to participate, including girls and underrepresented minorities.
Starting the effort this year, with more than $135 million in investments by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support and train CS teachers, who are the most critical ingredient to offering CS education in schools. The agencies will make these investments over five years using existing funds.

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Early exposure and interest

Calling on even more Governors, Mayors, education leaders, CEOs, philanthropists, creative media and technology professionals, and others to get involved. Today, Delaware, Hawaii and more than 30 school districts are committing to expand CS opportunities; Cartoon Network, Google and Salesforce.org are announcing more than $60 million in new philanthropic investments, and Microsoft is announcing a fifty-state campaign to expand CS; and Code.org is announcing plans to offer CS training to an additional 25,000 teachers this year.

We still need parents and the communities to grasp the important of this project and to sign on. The initiatives mean nothing if schools don’t step up to the challenge. Has your school accepted Connect.Ed?IMG_0078

Invisible Students

 

Students at SITE

This article made me think of all of the people in education who have muted voices or no voices at all. It is probably because they don’t have technology, training, money, or time to make the difference that students need. They also can’t answer the experts , or share their sorrows in education. I think of them often. When I propose a workshop or a symposium, people start to tell me about the latest , hottest trend in education. Invisible students and teachers have no power. Even visible bad assed teachers can be shut out of the conversation and shut up.

Why are teachers cloaked in invisibility? Perhaps because we only ask the professors about research and not the working teachers. There are teachers and students in the world, in the US who are still not connected, and the way to get connected in their communities is difficult to find. We talk about the Internet of Things, and they have hardly the understanding of the uses of technology that are beneficial to them. I was told that sponsors don’t really care about digital equity, I don’t believe that.

I think it is difficult to walk in the shoes of those who work in rural, distant, urban, multilingual , and minority areas, but the work is necessary to lift all boats.

Teachers?

The public perception of the job is one thing. Being a good teacher is hard work.

The recent onslaught of attacks on teachers makes some of us like turtles. We withdraw and do our magic in the classroom as we can with what we have. The attacks make us insecure, and gives us feelings of unworthiness, sadness. Joy in the eyes of a child helps to take away the pain, or the discovery that some foundation, some credible agency understands how you feel makes for a quiet smile.

I like it that Richard Cullatta resigned and was not shy in his parting shots. The article is one that most people will never see or understand. But we in tribal. rural, distant, urban, and poor, the communities of those without the access, resources, savvy grant writers, technology trained teachers, and community support know exactly what he is talking about.

In his final public remarks as director of the Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education, Richard Cullatta had a few requests.

Please don’t scan in the same old worksheets.

Please don’t record boring lectures and put them online.

Please don’t forget the needs of low-income and minority students, many of whom don’t have easy access to digital devices, speedy Internet service and advanced classes in computer science.

*I would add please don’t forget that there are many students with reading difficulty  who think problem solving is a pain.

Culatta delivered his plea last week at National Education Week, an annual conference that was held this year at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The outgoing federal leader spoke on a panel about teaching coding in schools, and he used most of his time in the spotlight to talk about equality. We must ensure that the rapid march of innovation does not leave certain groups of people behind, Culatta said.

He said    ‘Women and minorities are underrepresented in computer science courses in high school and college. For instance, girls make up 56 percent of all test-takers in Advanced Placement courses, but just 18 percent of students taking computer science tests, Culatta said. It doesn’t get much better in college, where women make up about 57 percent of all undergraduates, but just 14 percent of them major in computer science. ‘

“And the inequality is even more stunning for people of color. In 12 states, zero students of color took the computer science Advanced Placement exam, Culatta said. And a mere 10 percent of people majoring in computer science are black.

“That’s an incredible problem that we need to solve,” Culatta said.

There are a lot of us who are not computer science teachers. But we have had support from the Supercomputing Conference which had an education section and we learned what we could in that precious space. For a while we also learned in the conference and at Shodor.org.  Then I had a remarkable experience in the Atlas Institute , learning with Dr. Alex Repenning. We were learning scalable game design. He knows how to teach teachers who are NOT computer science teachers.  ”

Sadly in the infrastructure of boards, and meetings , and groups who decide what goes on in education and who present in education we are an invisible force if present at all in the education  groups.

ADVOCACY

 

IMG_0078I learned as many others did at NASA, with the National Geographic Education Institute and alliances, with Earthwatch and the Jason Project. We teachers got to meet  Bob Ballard, Bill Nye, and a number of astronauts and scientists .

 

I had the power of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. When people were talking about Star Wars , they did not know that Edutopia is and has been a force in education for all.

We teachers also had the power of the NEA and its advocacies for diversity. McAuliffe, selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in NASA’s The Teacher in Space Project, had made plans to provide lessons from the shuttle on the benefits of space travel. Christa McAuliffe was a gifted social science teacher who was dedicated to her students and to the teaching profession.

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Many of the projects in coding are absolutely wonderful. I loved weaving the Star Wars coding with reading of the books, and sharing science fiction, and NASA photographs and  art and the movies in a mashup that few children could not be attracted to.

I am pretty savvy, so I did not even break a sweat. I walked into a lab and sat down with children I had never seen. We had a great time coding. We did not limit our time to an hour. We did various things in about 4 hours, and the kids wanted to stay longer.

*I am not in a classroom because I am a very experienced in technology and was asked to leave or give up technology during NCLB. So I left and became a consultant.

 

And then there is Cyberlearning.   But, but.. without regular access how do we develop the skills, and deep learning. How sad it must be to understand the Internet of  Things and to not have a learning landscape that is even good access.

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Some of the teachers need their job so badly that they just go with the flow no matter how terrible it is. It is taken for granted that the experts in the silos of higher ed know the answers. Well, some of those experts are very isolated from the people who really teach.