Teaching at Title 1school with over 55% of our students on free and reduced lunch, I see the issue of equitable access to technology first hand very day. The students at my school come from both ends of the soci-economic spectrum along with being from over 40 countries. With technology becoming ever more integrated into education and learning, schools must be the first place to ensure equitability. “Schools may be a critical component in developing community technology centers for empowering and educating economically disadvantaged communities” (Hohlfeld, Ritzhaupt & Barron).
One way my school works to being a technology center for the community is it offers seminar and classes throughout the year for our parents about various computer and technology skills and safety, in addition sometimes the courses given in Spanish. Our media center is open throughout the school day if our parents need access to a computer. Students are able to use computers in the media center before and after school and during their lunch if they need to work on assignments which require computers. I also allow students in my classroom to use my technology tools during the same time. If a student does not have access to computers or internet at home, I will work with them to ensure they have enough time and access to complete their work.
Our school district is working to ensure a 1:1 device for our students. It is a slow process but at the same time our school is working separately to try to get more technology in our student’s hands. Along with having three computer labs and two computers in each of our classrooms our school purchased two iPad carts this year, being a Title 1 school allows additional funding for such needs. I have worked with teachers in requesting funding from outside source such as Donor Choose. In the last month, we have received 10,000 in technology assistance we over 20 new devices at the school.
Along with increasing access at school, home access plays an important role in student’s development. Findings have shown that students with greater home access have a correlation positively to standardized reading achievement scores, math scores and grade point average (Barron, Walter, Martin & Schatz, 2009, pg 186). Internet Service Providers (ISP) such as Comcast and AT&T offer service to family who individually cannot afford full services. My school district is currently working with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to allow the district to be a provider of internet services to our students whether at school or home. These types of services will further close the gap in students experience with educational tools.
While understanding the role in which technology plays in student’s learning today and wanting all students to have access, at the same time, I do find it disheartening, when some students do have access to a smart phone or a tablet but not to more pressing needs such as proper clothing or food.
Hohlfeld, T., Ritzhaupt, A., & Barron, A. (n.d.). Connecting schools, community, and family with ict: Four-year trends related to school level and ses of public schools in florida. Computers and Education, 55(2010), 391-405. doi: doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2010.02.004
Barron, B., Walter, S., Martin, C., & Schatz, C. (2009). Predictors of creative computing participation and profiles of experience in two silicon valley middle schools. Computers and Education, 54(2010), 178-189. doi: doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2009.07.017
Christa Evans Heath