Saturday, March 22, 2008

Andy Carvin....again!

Carvin, A. (2006, May 4). [Weblog] Does home internet access improve academic achievement?. Learning. Now. Retrieved March 18, 2008, from

This resource is another blog entry by Andy Carvin. I know I have already used one of his articles as a resource, but he just has some really great articles on his blog, I can’t resist! This entry is looking specifically at low-income children and if the use of the internet at home improves their GPA and/or their test scores.
As soon as began reading this, I knew I had to post it. This has been a question in the back of my mind for a very long time now, I just have never really wanted to admit it. I’m a huge proponent for using technology in the classroom, and I truly do believe that it improves the education of our students, but I have never had the research to back up my thoughts. Carvin’s article has just the research I have been looking for!
Thanks to the wonderful (sarcastic) state tests that we all undergo each year, I really did wonder how much using technology, specifically the internet, helps our students when it comes to testing. In my classroom, we access the reading selections that are posted online by the Ohio Department of Education. These selections and questions are set up the same as the paper ones, they are just online. The kids enjoy doing them more on the computer, just because they think it’s more fun than doing it on paper. But, other than that, does using the internet really help our students?

HomeNetToo children logged on primarily to surf the Web. Web pages are heavily text based. Thus, whether searching for information about school-related projects or searching for information about personal interests and hobbies (e.g., rock stars, movies), children who were searching the Web more were reading more, and more time spent reading may account for improved performance on standardized tests of reading and for higher GPAs, which depend heavily on reading skills.
(Carvin, 2006)

YES, it does help our students! Duh….reading comprehension…why didn’t I think of that?! When I read this, I was jumping for joy! I just KNEW that using the internet had to be of more benefit than it’s more fun for the kids. I was overjoyed to see that it can actually help students when taking the state achievement tests. Also, knowing this is a huge push with administrations and districts who have not whole-heartedly adopted the idea of using technology in the classroom. YAY!

Factors of Life

Ba, H, Tally, B, & Tsikalas, K Childrens emerging digital literacies: Investigating home computing in low and middle income families. CCT Reports, Retrieved March 18, 2008, from

The site I have to share with you today is going along the same lines as the Carvin, 2006 posting I put up the other day ( Both Carvin and this article talk about the effects of internet use on literacy levels in students. That means, for the students who don’t use the internet very often, the lack of literacy skills.

I found this article interesting because it identified, based on a study they conducted, some factors in students’ lives that help shape their computer use.

Here is a summary of what they found:

Elements of social environments that shape computer use:
1. parents attitude towards using computers
2. amount of skill and experience of parents
3. amount of leisure time
4. computer habits of peers
5. computer habits of family friends, relatives, neighbors, etc.
(Ba, Tally, & Tsikalas)

Elements of school environment that shape computer use:
1. HW assignments
“In all the schools attended by our participating children, teachers help students develop digital literacy through homework assignments” (Ba,

2. Direct instruction by teacher
For example, in the CFY partner schools, some teachers provided instruction on MS Word and on using the Internet, while in the middle-income schools, a library-media specialist offered group computer instruction on how to do an Internet search and then evaluate the information found. (Ba, et. al).


This article reiterates the effect of parents on a child’s computer use and knowledge.

Parental Education

Williamson, D. A. (2006, September 7). Students suffer a new digital divide?. Retrieved March 18, 2008, from eMarketer Web site:

This article, “Students Suffer A New Digital Divide?”, by Debra Williamson, is fairly short, but I had a sudden realization as I read it; a realization that I should have had a long time ago, but somehow didn’t. (I think my brain is just wore out J)

Williamson took information from a report put out by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), concerning the digital divide that surrounds us today. She mentions the two main factors that we hear most about when reading about the digital divide: income and race/ethnicity. However, she brought to light a new factor for me, parental education.

Now that I have this factor in my head, it makes a lot of sense. We can assume that parental education effects the type of job you have, which in turn effects your income level. So, we can somewhat infer that the two factors might be related, although not in all cases.

Two main points I took from this article are as follows:

· “…among US students Internet use may be influenced strongly by parental income and education level” (Williamson, 2006).
· “Schools play an important role in bridging and eventually eliminating the various digital divides. ‘Students are more likely to use the Internet at school than at home when they have any of several characteristics: Hispanic or Black race/ethnicity, no parent who attended college, a single-mother head of household, a Spanish monolingual household, or family income below $35,000 per year,’ (NCES) " (Williamson, 2006).

The chart shown below is a great visual representation of how the digital divide is affected by parental education level.

(Williamson, 2006)

This whole idea of parental education level relates to my students A LOT! Many of my students have parents who didn’t even graduate from high school, let alone college or higher. That factor alone doesn’t mean that you will be in poverty and not technologically advanced, but when that factor leads to the parents not working, not valuing education, and not seeing a need for technology, then it becomes a problem.

Some thoughts that always enter my mind, but now are at the forefront, are: Is lack of education a cycle in some families? Are my students going to be able to rise above their parents beliefs against education and get a good education for themselves? Is this just one huge trap that some kids are in?

How sad…’s even more sad that I can see the faces of specific kids from my classes that might possible be caught in this trap forever. What can I do to help them?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Andy Carvin's Blog

Carvin, A (2007, July 25). [Weblog] The you tube debate: Shining more light on schools, filters and the digital divide. Retrieved March 15, 2008, from

The link posted above is for Andy Carvin’s blog page. After reading a few of his entries, I chose to use this one…for now. I really like his topics and how he approaches them.
The reason I chose to go with this entry is because he takes the idea of schools teaching technology, one step farther. Carvin talks about how it IS the school’s job to educate our students about technology and it’s benefits in today’s society. However, he goes into a topic that is rarely touched on, but has actually been a huge issue at my school this year. Some schools, depending on your resources, are limited to how much technology they can teach. They might not have the right software, or maybe not even enough computers. However, even if you do have computers, there are still some setbacks for teachers who are trying to introduce their students to all that the internet has to offer.
Carvin brings up the issue of filters on school computers. Are the necessary? I would have to say YES, based on the fact that the kids are not able to access inappropriate material while working on the computers. However, they can keep students from accessing material that is not harmful, and is good for them to learn to use. One example of this at my school is You Tube. I totally understand that there are many inappropriate things on You Tube, that students shouldn’t be accessing at school. But, there are also many educational videos on there, that could be shown by the teacher. I had a video on the Vietnam war from You Tube that I wanted to show earlier this year. The problem is that You Tube is blocked on even the teacher computers. In order to remove the block you have to email the tech. guy (we only have one tech. guy for the entire district) and ask him to come to your room and enter a password, which only he knows. By the time he actually gets around to responding or coming to your classroom, it’s about two weeks later. And, if you did time it right and he makes it to your room, he’s mad because he has to stay there all day….when he unlocks the firewall, it only stays unlocked for one hour. So, he has to stick around to unlock it three different times for me (once for each of my three classes). And this is all depending on if he even responds to your email at all. Which usually, after the first time, he conveniently doesn’t respond any more.
All of this makes me think of the digital divide on a whole other level, smaller that that of the “have and have nots” of the internet. Will there ever be a surefire solution? If so, at what cost?

I just thought this article was really interesting and wanted to share it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Gap (not the store) :)

Long, C (2008, March). Mind the gap. NEA Today, [26 (6)], Retrieved March 15, 2008, from

This is a great article! I actually first read this article in the “NEA Today” magazine I get each month, then searched for it online so that I could post it for everyone to read on here.

This article is specific to the United States and how the digital divide, or “gap” as they call it, effects students across different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. This article caught my attention right away because it starts out by describing a 16 year old boy who has his own computer and is online all the time, chatting, watching or posting videos, updating his blog, and many other things. Much like what most of us do all the time J! Then, it goes right into the exact opposite side of the spectrum. The article then goes on to describe a boy who has to drive 40 miles to get to a community center, so that he can use the internet for do research on colleges and students loans. How crazy is that! Most of us reading this probably couldn’t even imagine not having a computer in our own house and having to go to the library to use one. Let alone having to drive 40 miles to get there! Right away, this article hit the nail on the head with how the digital divide effects our students every day. We, as teachers with constant internet access, may not really realize the intensity of these effects on our students. Are they really getting hit harder by the divide than even we realize? YES!
What are some of the differences between students who have internet access readily available and those who don’t? “Students with round-the-clock; high-speed Internet access have more opportunity not only to be content consumers, but also content creators with a global audience – they have the chance to be ‘publishers, movie makers, artists, song creators, and story tellers’ ”(Rainie, as cited in Long, 2008). As you can see, there are HUGE differences between students who use technology and students who don’t. What really makes me sad, is that I don’t think the students who don’t get to use technology every day, even know what they are missing out on. They feel like they are fine just the way they are, and they really don’t know what their life would be like with constant internet access. We, as avid internet users, know that their life would be more informed, enlightened, and would span across more areas then just the small towns they live it. They would become more cultured, well-rounded individuals with a broader knowledge base to take with them on their future conquests.
“The more opportunity young people have to play around online, the more their experience and comfort with technology grows. They’re becoming digital innovators who will increasingly integrate technology into their everyday lives and use it to shape the future” (Long, 2008). Isn’t that what we want for our students? Don’t we want to better prepare them for the future and give them the tools they need so that they can go out into the real world and be successful? That is definitely our job! A teacher in today’s world needs to prepare his or her students technologically, if they want them to be successful in the future. That is what our world revolves around and it’s going to continue to be that way for years to come.

“Technology is too big a part of our world for kids to now know the most simple stuff, …that’s where you find the gap – it’s where kids can’t go online to just mess around, find stuff, explore. Kids want to know about technology. They want to know how it all works and what it can do. It’s everywhere, it’s the future” (Long, 2008).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Campbell, D (2001). Can the digital divide be contained?. International Labour Review, [140 (2)], Retrieved March 12, 2008, from

The article link shown above, “Can the digital divide be contained?”, by Duncan Campbell, looks at the digital divide across countries, such as developed versus developing countries. Although I am focusing more on the divide between people of different socio economic status, I still felt that Campbell’s article was interesting and very important. In order to understand the digital divide on a smaller scale, I believe that it helps to see if from a larger scale as well.
Although this article tells a lot of information that I don’t particularly feel is important to my quest of better understanding the digital divide among my own students, I do feel that the first part of his article was very interesting and relevant. He focuses a lot on the internet use and it’s effects in the United States, versus other countries. Seeing the big pictures really helped me to see it on a smaller scale as well. When looking at the graph posted on pg. 120, "Estimated number of internet users..." (Campbell, 2001, p.120), you can see the growth of internet users in the U.S. from 99 to 00. However, you can also see the huge divide between the numbers in the U.S. and the numbers in other countries. This was astounding to me! I knew the U.S. was up there, but I wasn’t aware of by how much they were up there! I couldn’t believe it.
What struck home with me is the fact that Africa has made hardly any gains from 1999 to 2000. What does this have to do with the divide on a smaller scale. Well, this made me think about my district, the surrounding town, and Cincinnati, as it’s own little “world”. You have the higher income areas around here that are like the United States. They are well developed, have laptops in every classroom, for every student, and have all the latest technological advances. Then, you have rural areas like Bethel (where I teach), and others, who are the “Africa” of the group. We have some technology, but it hasn’t grown very much in the five years I’ve been here. Also, we have nothing compared to the wealthier districts.
I really feel that all the principals that apply to the digital divide across the world, really apply in the same fashion to the digital divide right here where I live. I have never thought about it in this sense before. Very interesting!
My question now is, what steps are we taking to help the technologically undeveloped countries advance? And can we use those same steps on a smaller scale in rural districts, such as Bethel?

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Lehrer, J (1999, September 17). Digital Divide. Online News Hour, Retrieved March 11, 2008, from

Although the article linked above is a little bit dated (it’s talking about the emergence of hi-speed internet access), it does bring up the issue of people who don’t have the technology resources they need, in order to become in tune with the online world.

One area with in the concept of the digital divide that I would like to focus on is how the lack of technological resources affects students. When thinking about this issue in the perspective of some of my students, I’m focusing more along the lines of children who are living in poverty. However, this interview brings up the idea of students who are even worse off than just poverty. Lehrer talks about (and to) families living on Indian reservations who don’t have running water and just recently got electricity, meaning that a phone line and computer access isn’t even a blip on the radar right now.

This interview also focuses on the program called E-Rate, which provides internet access to many schools. This article really got me thinking about government funding for technology, and how much more I wish they would do J (don’t all teachers?)! Considering this interview was done in 1999, things have hopefully improved since then….although not for everyone. Does this mean that things will improve even more as time goes on? Or will government money not be spent on technology any more? No one can predict the future, but I can say that I would hope the government is able to see how important it is for schools to be “technologically sound.” Our student’s futures depend on it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Startling Statistics

Riley, D (2007, May 6). [Weblog] America: The growing digital divide. TechCrunch. Retrieved March 11, 2005, from

Yesterday I was talking about how the lack of computer use in the classroom is detrimental to our students, especially those who don't have computer access at home. To stay on that same track, I decided to share the blog link posted above, "America: The Growing Digital Divide," by Duncan Riley. This blog shares some very startling statistics about the technology use in America. "31% of Americans are considered to be 'Elite Tech Users', where as 49% have few tech assets, either engaging with the online world only on occasion, or not at all" (Riley, 2007).

I was truly shocked by these numbers! I knew there were people out there that didn't use the internet as much as others, but I never would have guessed that number was as high as 49%!

This blog also has a great link to a study done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which shows even more astonishing statistics, if you are interested in seeing them.

I have so many questions running through my mind right now, and it's really hard for me to grasp the fact that so few people take advantage of the great resources we have available to use through the use of the internet. Is the lack of use contributed to age? Or to ability level? Or are people just not interested and feel they are fine the way the are? What percentage of that 49% is due to factors such as lack of technology resources? Hopefully, throughout my journey on this blog, I will find answers to these questions!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mixed Interruptations

Riba, E (2002, November). The digital divide. Retrieved March 11, 2008, from Elisabeth Riba Web site:

Above is the link to an article titled "The Digital Divide," by Elisabeth Riba. Although my focus is on the digital divide between students of different socioeconomic status, we all know that the "divide" is not just made up of that one category. The "digital divide is a term used to describe the inequality between technology haves and have nots" (Riba, 2002). This divide could be between countries, races, age groups, socioeconomic status, rural and inner city, and many more. In reality, for my area of concentration, I think that the divide between rural and age groups strongly affects the divide between socioeconomic status in my district.

That being said, I chose to start with this article because I think it does a really good job of summing up the idea of the "digital divide" as a whole. Riba also makes a great point in saying that the "divide" can't necessarily be solved by giving computer access to everyone. This plays into the divide of age groups. Just because people have computers, doesn't mean they are going to use them. "According to Lenhart's 2000 Pew report, only 39% of non-Internet users thought they were missing out on things by not being online. 51% didn't think they were missing anything and 10% weren't sure" (Riba, 2002). 51% is an insanely large number of people who think that the internet is not important. For me, that is very hard to believe, considering the amount of time and the amount of information I get from the internet on a daily basis. I honestly don't know what I would do without the internet anymore!

So, how does all of this relate to education and the use of the internet in the classroom you ask? Well, in order to even get technology into the classroom, which is the only place that some of my students even get the chance to use the internet, you have to have teachers who are willing to use technology, regardless of how often they use it on their own. In this day and age, it's crucial for our students to be computer proficient if they are to succeed in the real world. Isn't that our goal as teachers, to help them succeed? In today's world, computer skills are a must for success to even glimmer in our students' futures.

I leave you with a fantastic quote from Riba, regarding teaching technology to our students, "Many people choose not to read for pleasure, however the schools still ensured that everyone learned basic literacy. That's how we need to think of the digital divide" (Riba, 2002).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Blog Overview

Hello, and welcome to my blog page! This blog is devoted to the use of technology in today's classroom, which is a topic I am very passionate about. The whole concept of using technology in the classroom is a very broad topic; one that we could talk about for years to come. To narrow down our conversations, I want to focus more on the use of the internet in the classroom and how it affects all students differently, based on their socioeconomic status. This concept is often referred to as the "digital divide", meaning the technology gap that exists between students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. This area of focus is very important to anyone who teaches in a district where you have students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, such as the district where I teach. It's a fact about your students that you have to constantly think about, so that you can plan your assignments and projects around the fact that not everyone is on the same technological level. But what about the future of these students, who are on the down side of the technology gap? How will the lack of technology knowledge affect their years in high school and their future? What can we, as teachers, do about this? These are some questions I am looking forward to finding answers to. I hope you will enjoy this blog and choose to participate in the discussions that I'm sure will arise.