Ariel Sacks of On the Shoulders of Giants is having trouble with the “digital divide” between students who have internet at home and those who don’t. She and the special ed teacher in her classroom took a lot of time to record themselves reading Nancy Farmer’s The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm to help students struggling with the reading. Then they posted the MP3 of themselves on Multiply.com, a social networking site. The problem was many students couldn’t participate because 1) they don’t have internet access at home and 2) the site was inaccessible from the school due to filtering.
Sacks doesn’t see this as a huge impediment just yet. Her kids will just have to read their assignments the old fashioned way. But she thinks the problem will grow as time goes on.
This divide is going to become more and more painful. I'd like to see the government step in and make internet free for parents who send their children to public schools, and provide a laptop—or an easy, affordable pathway to getting one—for all public school students. Once this is the case, schools need to get with the times and create safe and attractive networking programs for teachers and classes to use.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.