Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Real Digital Divide?

I have a sister who is a junior in high school. I’m amazed by how different her educational experience has been in comparison to mine. She grew up with a computer in the home since the day she was born, and she has watched and learned from all of her brothers and sisters on the computer. My sister, along with her friends, created the Skittles commercial in a high school class for a project. She remarked that the software she used in class was not as good as iMovie (from her Mac) or Movie Maker (from my PC). Even so, they edited the whole process easily since my sister had video editing experience from summer projects we worked on together the year before (we made music videos - a quick an fun way to learn Movie Maker). I was impressed with how quickly she learns and picks up on new concepts related to the computer. When I created digital pictures that were edited in Photoshop Elements for my class book, I showed her the new pictures that had the “special effects” added into them. While she was impressed, she smiled and said, “Send these to me. I can make them better”. And she did! How does she do this? She isn’t afraid of the computer like older generations can be. She sits at the computer and plays around with software until she teaches herself what she wants to know. If students are doing this on their own, should we reconsider how we are teaching them in the classroom? How can we continue to keep the technology updated so that students like my sister won’t be slowed down by what is available in their classes, but can soar with it? All points that need to be considered. Where is the Digital Divide really? Is it between the “haves” and the “have nots”? I see a bigger Digital Divide between the digital learners in today’s classrooms and their teachers. I heard a quote once that went something like this: “Technology won’t replace teachers. But teachers who use technology will replace teachers who don’t.”
I think this is absolutely true.

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