Digital Divide, Mobile Divide, Knowledge Divide, Access Divide, Are We a Nation of Opportunity?

TECHNOLOGY         We Still Have a Digital Divide and it is growing!!

In recent years, it’s become clear among academics, community organizers and government policymakers that addressing the issue of access is just the first step, not the whole solution, to the digital divide.

Once connected, some people don’t have the skills to make full use of the Internet, or don’t participate in social and civic life online because they’re too busy working two jobs to make ends meet.

The barriers are numerous and complex, meaning that the problem remains persistent, and not subject to a single, easy fix.

But without universal broadband adoption and full participation in digital life, to use one example, governments must maintain digital and paper systems that are duplicative and wasteful. The divide also makes it hard for schools to embrace digital tools, knowing some students have them and some don’t. And with more job applications moving online, being on the wrong side of the digital divide can make it harder to get a job.

“The size, the nature, and the endurance of the digital divide has a lot of impact on the U.S.,” said Tessie Guillermo, president and CEO of ZeroDivide, a nonprofit based in San Francisco that works with community groups across the U.S. to address issues of digital exclusion. “In terms of global competition, innovation and economic power, if 20 percent of our people are not on the Internet, their contribution to the economic vitality of the U.S. is not being maximized.”

When you can't get it in school use a technology center

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

Back in 2010, the FCC released a National Broadband Plan that was an ambitious attempt to reach universal broadband adoption while addressing the many complexities of the digital divide. Rather than fading away, the FCC made three important announcements this year that show it still has momentum:

  • The Universal Service Fund that for decades had been dedicated to telephone adoption was transformed into the Connect America Fund, which will generate $4.5 billion to help millions get access to broadband connections.
  • Connect to Compete, an agreement with broadband providers to create a $9.95-a-month plan for families that are eligible for federal lunch programs.
  • And the creation of a nonprofit public-private partnership with a long list of telecommunications and tech companies that will provide digital literacy and skill training.Remarkably, it’s all being done without cutting other services, or raising any taxes. And while not revealing details, Genachowski said he expects more progress in 2012.We are still a long way from closing the digital divide, to be sure. But by keeping the topic on the national agenda while also managing to make progress should be considered a huge victory for Genachowski and the FCC.
  • Barriers to Use

    Affordability: 36 percent of non-adopters, or 28 million adults, said
    they do not have home broadband because the monthly fee is too
    expensive (15 percent), they cannot afford a computer, the installation
    fee is too high (10 percent), or they do not want to enter into a
    long-term service contract (9 percent). According to survey
    respondents, their average monthly broadband bill is $41.

    Digital Literacy: 22 percent of non-adopters, or 17 million adults,
    indicated that they do not have home broadband because they lack the
    digital skills (12 percent) or they are concerned about potential
    hazards of online life, such as exposure to inappropriate content or
    security of personal information (10 percent)

    .

    Relevance: 19 percent of non-adopters, or 15 million adults, said they
    do not have broadband because they say that the Internet is a waste of
    time, there is no online content of interest to them or, for dial-up
    users, they are content with their current service.

    Digital Hopefuls, who make up 22 percent of non-adopters, like the idea
    of being online but lack the resources for access.
    Few have a computer and, among those who use one, few feel comfortable
    with the technology. Some 44 percent cite affordability as a barrier to
    adoption and they are also more likely than average to say digital
    literacy are a barrier. This group is heavily Hispanic and has a high
    share of African-Americans.

    Julius Genachowski

Literacy today depends on understanding the multiple media that make up our high-tech reality and developing the skills to use them effectively

Prior to the 21st century, literate defined a person’s ability to read and write, separating the educated from the uneducated. With the advent of a new millennium and the rapidity with which technology has changed society, the concept of literacy has assumed new meanings. Experts in the field suggest that the current generation of teenagers—sometimes referred to as the E-Generation—possesses digital competencies to effectively navigate the multidimensional and fast-paced digital environment. For generations of adults who grew up in a world of books, traveling through cyberspace seems as treacherous and intimidating as speaking a new language. In fact, Prensky1 recognized such non-IT-literate individuals as burdened with an accent—non-native speakers of a language, struggling to survive in a strange new world.

We who have technology complain about or love the various changes that happen on a daily basis with the use of the Internet.

http://www.businessinsider.com/incredible-things-that-happen-every-60-seconds-on-the-internet-2011-12

Internet Access A Right!!

Vint Cerf had some reflection on the state of the art and whether or not it is a digital right. He said.”

Although some countries around the world argue that Internet access is a fundamental right, one of the “fathers of the Internet,” Vint Cerf, doesn’t see it that way.

“Technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself,” Cerf, who is also a Google’s chief Internet evangelist, wrote yesterday in an editorial in The New York Times. “There is a high bar for something to be considered a human right. Loosely put, it must be among the things we as humans need in order to lead healthy, meaningful lives, like freedom from torture or freedom of conscience. It is a mistake to place any particular technology in this exalted category, since over time we will end up valuing the wrong things.”

It is no secret that the recession has hit our nation hard, particularly in low-income and minority communities. Naturally, many government institutions and private organizations have turned to broadband to help them cut costs by streamlining various processes and keeping productivity levels high. In general, this is a productive use of a transformative technology – and embracing it to improve efficiency is certainly the right thing for these organizations to do. But what about the millions of Americans who lack a home computer and who remain unconnected to broadband? How are they supposed to apply for government benefits online, access Web-based job search sites, and otherwise participate in this digital revolution? The short answer is that those who remain unconnected are relegated to second-class digital citizenship. Enhancing the broadband adoption rate across every demographic group must be priority number o

ne for policymakers at every level of government. Without more robust broadband adoption, too many Americans will be stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. Social justice and continued economic prosperity demand a concerted effort to get these non-adopters on a path toward first-class digital citizenship.

Links to Sources

My ideas for education have not changed . The technology has. How can minority kids learn computational thinking, and new supercomputing ideas if they are not connected?

A fourth “r” for 21st century literacy- How do we give teachers professional development for it?

A student today needs a fourth R:  Reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic  and ’rithms, as in algorithms, or basic computational skills.

From the floor of the Supercomputing Conference where teachers go to learn, and take courses

Immersion into Supercomputing

So my question is, how do we expect this to happen if the only outreach is to the teachers who are being wonderfully made a part of outreach who have PHD’s? There are ways to infuse interest, information and create the steps to the fourth “r” but for many students who are taught by teachers with little or no science training. Remember, with NCLB( No Child Left Behind) science was really neglected. Within the supercomputing community, some of us have started to push the envelope. Here is a paper that we wrote to open the challenge to other teachers. Computational Thinking, Computational Science and High Performance Computing in K-12 Education: White Paper on 21st Century Education

We are a small group seeking change and inclusion. Do you have to be a PhD to understand the new literacy? I don’t think so. If that is the passport to computational learning there are groups with so little membership that they will never catch up. Look at this data.


www.nsf.gov

This report continues a series of Congressionally-mandated biennial reports, providing data on the participation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering education and employment.

SOME CORPORATE VISIONS OF WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN

The Power of US is an ambitious, nationwide initiative that aims to transform K-12 education, and provide a customized learning experience for every child in America. This is a call for a major effort, similar to a ‘NASA moon shot’, with every student, teacher, school, and community involved in lift-off!  Our founder, Jack Taub had an interest in infusing the curriculum into schools K-12 so that computational science would be a natural part of the teaching learning process.

Academics seem to push away the classroom teachers, and there will be more PhD’s ,but who of them will serve the minority , urban, distant and poor communities, the ones who need resources the most?

There have been countless commission and organizational reports validating the WSJ CEO Council’s conclusion and describing the extent and impact of the lagging quality of America’s K-12 public education system.  The following are excerpts from a few current ones.

  • In April of 2009 McKinsey & Company took a close look at the impact of the education deficit between the U. S. and leading foreign countries.  They concluded:  “If the United States had in recent years closed the gap between its educational achievement levels and those of better-performing nations such as Finland and Korea, GDP in 2008 could have been $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion higher. This represents 9 to 16 percent of GDP.  … Put differently, the persistence of these educational achievement gaps imposes on the United States the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession. The recurring annual economic cost of the international achievement gap is substantially larger than the deep recession the United States is currently experiencing. (Based on GDP decline in the fourth quarter of 2008 of minus 6.3 percent.)” [1]
  • The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) recognized and addressed another major issue.  Without belittling the need for students to have a solid understanding of the content represented by the academic standards, P21 advocates the inclusion of another essential body of knowledge and/or skills as illustrated in the following quote from their website: to help the U.S. education system keep up by fusing the traditional 3 Rs with the essential 4 Cs (critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, and creativity and innovation).” (http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/)  The problem is, in many of today’s classrooms students are passive, dependent listeners, not active, engaged learners.  As a result, they do not have an opportunity to learn or use critical 21st century skills.
  • America’s leaders frequently bemoan the dropout problem, and rightly so.  However, we also have a diploma problem – people who graduate from high school without actually receiving an education.  To quote a recent study called “Diploma to Nowhere: A hoax is being played on America. The public believes that a high school diploma shows that a student is ready for college-level academics. Parents believe it too. So do students. But when high school graduates enroll in college as many as one million students fail placement exams every year. Well over one third of all college students need remedial courses in order to acquire basic academic skills.
  • This is a way of looking into the future. Future Work Skills. You will note the computational sciences here.
    http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/front/docs/sponsored/phoenix/future_work_skills_2020.pdf

TEACHER SPECIALISTS Say…..

Linda Darling Hammond and Tom Carroll do understand the ebb and flow of teacher candidates and the fact that there should be support , infrastructure and community to make significant changes. If you are really interested in change view this video by Linda Darling Hammond.

Is there a level of understanding in the academic higher ideational scaffolding about how to broaden engagement and make this new literacy available to all  teachers by inclusion? Surely we are not going to go back to the old model of teaching just the eleventh gaders and above who have managed to enter a career path that has been inclusive of computational thinking. The problem there is that there are teachers who have not been exposed to the computational resources to use to develop the skills. Ok let’s tell the truth.Math is not the strongest academic area for most teachers. So how can we make this tremendous change. There are groups working to make this change. But we need the teachers in the classroom to be educated. There are few PhD’s in the minority communities and even those are not in the areas where we need them to teach to create the kind of change that is needed.

If you read how people get hired in the essay /interview from Linda Darling Hammond, minority students will hardly get a chance to be taught by someone who is skilled in the computational sciences, or math, or science. We have to change that.

Pat Phillips has a wonderful powerpoint that shares the ideas.

FROM THOSE ACTUALLY INVOLVED IN TEACHING?

Diane Baxter and     Mano Talaiver who work with K-12 teachers

These two women know to link with the teachers in the classroom and to provide outreach to the teachers , to the learning community and link to the universities. Mano is at Longwood University in Virginia , and Diane Baxter is at the San Diego Supercomputing Center.They have been funded to create change and to help teachers make the neccesary  transistions.’

Here is a reason for the immediacy of the change to curriculum.This is long.

As a minority , as a woman we are always running to catch up. Technology is ever evolving,

Vint Cerf says, this in a wonderful essay.

“What about the claim that Internet access is or should be a civil right? The same reasoning above can be applied here — Internet access is always just a tool for obtaining something else more important — though the argument that it is a civil right is, I concede, a stronger one than that it is a human right. Civil rights, after all, are different from human rights because they are conferred upon us by law, not intrinsic to us as human beings.”he says.

“While the United States has never decreed that everyone has a “right” to a telephone, we have come close to this with the notion of “universal service” — the idea that telephone service (and electricity, and now broadband Internet) must be available even in the most remote regions of the country. When we accept this idea, we are edging into the idea of Internet access as a civil right, because ensuring access is a policy made by the government.”

“Yet all these philosophical arguments overlook a more fundamental issue: the responsibility of technology creators themselves to support human and civil rights. The Internet has introduced an enormously accessible and egalitarian platform for creating, sharing and obtaining information on a global scale. As a result, we have new ways to allow people to exercise their human and civil rights.”

In this context, engineers have not only a tremendous obligation to empower users, but also an obligation to ensure the safety of users online. That means, for example, protecting users from specific harms like viruses and worms that silently invade their computers. Technologists should work toward this end.”

The Answer Sheet

This was written by Cathy N. Davidson, a Duke University professor, self-described “technopragmatist,” and author of Now You See It:  How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. 

By Cathy N. Davidson

What basic skills do kids today need to thrive in the 21st century digital age? The 3 R’s of “reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic” were deemed essentials of mandatory public schooling in the 19th century Industrial Age where mass printing and machine-made paper and ink made books available to just about everyone for the first time in history. A student today needs a fourth R:  Reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic  and ’rithms, as in algorithms, or basic computational skills.   By getting the youngest kids started on algorithmic or computational thinking, we give them the same tool of agency and being able to make (not just receive) digital content that the 3 R’s gave to Industrial Age learners.

Here’s a definition of algorithm adapted from the Wikipedia dictionary.   “Algorithm: A process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, esp. by a computer.”  Algorithms are the basis for computational thinking, programming, writing code, and webcraft.   Just as the last century saw a major educational initiative aimed at basic literacy and numeracy for the masses, the 21st century should be pushing for basic computational literacy for everyone, starting with kids and, of course, with adult and lifelong learning possibilities for all of us.

Before mass printing, universal literacy and numeracy were not considered important because the division of those who ruled and those who were ruled was skewed radically, so a small aristocracy controlled the majority of people.   With the rise of the middle class in industrialism came compulsory schooling and a push towards universal literacy.   Simple access to print doesn’t mean much unless you can read and write.  You can’t be middle class without some control over your own budgets, income, earnings, spending, and savings so elementary numeracy is crucial.

Algorithms are as basic to the way the 21st century digital age works as reading, writing, and arithmetic were to the late 18th century Industrial era. Here’s some of what the fourth “R” of “algorithms” adds to the standard syllabus of 21st century learning:

*Algorithms and algorithmic thinking give kids of the 21st century the ability to write software and change programs to suit themselves, their own creativity, and their desire to self-publish their own multimedia work.  Wonderful open source, nonprofit (free!) multimedia programs like Scratch , designed by the MIT Media Lab, inspire kids to “create and share your own interactive stories, games, music, and art.”  Or kids can take advantage of the free online web remixing programHackasaurus , created by the nonprofit Mozilla Corporation that develops the Firefox browser.

*Learning basic algorithms allows them to create not just content but the actual structures of Webcraft that govern their lives today, including interaction with other kids learning the same skills they are.

*It allows for more diverse participation in the creation (not just the consumption) of the digital cultural, as well as the economic, educational, and business products of the 21st century.

*It helps to end the false “two cultures” binary of the arts, humanities and social sciences on the one side, and technology and science on the other.   Algorithmic thinking is scientific but also operational and instrumental — it does stuff, makes stuff, allows for creativity, multimedia and narrative expression — all worked out within code that has been generated by these larger human and social and aesthetic priorities.

*By making computational literacy one of the basics, it could help redress the skewed gender balance of learning right now, with an increasingly high proportion of boys failing and then dropping out of the educational system, a disproportionate number of women going into teaching as a profession, and an abominably low percentage of women going into technology and multimedia careers.  Starting early might help level the playing field in several directions at once.

*If we don’t teach kids how to control this dynamic means of production, we will lose it.  Computational literacy should be a human right in the 21st century but, to access that right, kids need to learn its power, in the same way that the earlier literacies are also powerful if you master them.

*For those kids not destined to be programmers when they grow up, this Fourth R gives them access to computational thinking, it shows them what webcraft is and does, and it shows them how the World Wide Web was originally designed; that is, with algorithms that allow as many people to participate as possible, allowing as much access and as little regulation, hierarchy, and central control as possible.

*For the Fourth R to catch on, we’d also have to invest in teacher training. That might include scholarships for college students who wanted to go on to be teachers of basic computing skills.  Think about the range of societal impacts this would have.  It may be true that simple code writing today can be outsourced and off-shored — but teaching the building blocks of literacy for a digital age is an important skill and requires good teachers.

*Unlike math, which can often be difficult to teach because of its abstractness, teaching basic programming skills allows kids to actually do and make things on line, that can be shared within the various educational communities supported by programs like Scratch or Hackasaurus.  Grade school kids can very soon manipulate, create, and remix, in their very own and special way, with unique sounds and colors and animation and all the things that make learning fun and the Internet so vital.

Some have argued that the most important 3 R’s in education are really rigor, relevance, and relationships.  Adding “Algorithms” to reading, writing, and arithmetic also helps with that goal.  The rigor is not only inherent, but it is observable. You get your program right, and it works.  No end-of-grade testing required.  Algorithms only when you make them right, so you don’t need external measures.  Your progress is charted, tracked, and can be measured against that of others every time you solve a problem on line.

What could be more relevant to the always-on student of today than to learn how to make apps and programs and films and journalism and multimedia productions and art for the mobile devices that, we know, are now almost ubiquitous in the United States, if not by ownership then by availability in town libraries, schools, and elsewhere?

Finally, relationships: teaching algorithms is hands-on, even when it is done digitally.  You correct on a minute level, you learn, you go to the next level.  Someone guiding you can make all the difference.

If every child began to learn programming along with basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, the world of computer scientists and software entrepreneurs would be far more diverse — in gender, educational background, income level, race and ethnicity, and region.

How would our world change if we had something closer to universal computer literacy equal to the old forms of literacy and numeracy which were the object of 19th and 20th century public schooling?  What could our world look like if it were being designed by a more egalitarian, publicly educated cadre of citizens, whose literacies were a right not a privilege mastered in expensive higher education, at the end of a process that tends to weed out those of lower income?

The 4 R’s.   Reading, writing, arithmetic, algorithms.    Think about it!

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