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Should the Digital Divide Be Closed? June 23, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in education, InformationIssues.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Interesting bit from the Freakonomics blog on the New York Times website, pointing to a new study that is showing a statistically significant DECREASE in math and reading test scores among students with home computer and internet access.

Meanwhile, students with limited access to computers and internet did not experience this statistical decrease. Does this mean that we should not be working to close the digital divide? That we should not be trying to make computers and internet accessible to every child?

Another point found in the study was that students who had computers and internet at home, but were limited in usage due to “more effective parental monitoring” did not experience the same negative effect on test scores. Perhaps the children in these households put the technology and internet access to more productive uses?

This study is seems to indicate that computers, internet and technology are not only not a magic pill to increase test scores, but without the proper guidance, may be a distraction and hindrance to students’ academic performance.

Does this mean that we should not close the “digital divide”? What do you think?



1. findingschools - June 23, 2010

One of the key points here is that the study looks at the effect of the “home” computer, not the computers at school. The article also says “internet service, and technology more broadly, is put to more productive use in households with more effective parental monitoring of child behavior.” I think this says more about parenting and how children spend their time at home, than it does about the effects of computers on learning.

You might be interested in a couple of our blogs, for instance The School of One seems to be effectively using independent computer learning and virtual tutors to teach students (in a closely supervised program – http://findingschools.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/the-school-of-one-education-of-the-future/

I vote to close the “digital divide,” but obviously we need to be smart about how we do that!

2. Drew Ryans - August 12, 2010

If used properly and the children have guidance, the computer can be a valuable learning tool. But I feel lots of parents use it as a babysitter.

At its best, the computer and the internet can be the most valuable tool used to educate both the young and old. At its worst it can serve as nothing more than mindless entertainment likely surpassing the television.

There is no “Magic pill” to increase test scores. I feel we have our hands on the best tools to help educate that we ever have had. As such the “Digital divide” should be closed, and as apart of that, the education system should teach people how to effectively use this great tool effectively.

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