Friday, November 23, 2007

Visualizing a technology divide

The education/technology blog Dangerously Irrelevant has an interesting visual display and analysis of the gap between home and outside of home usage of technology across various constituencies. One of these is students, and so is of interest to me.

Here is an interesting analysis:
Speaking generally, the people in charge of implementing technology initiatives likely are high users at both home and work, with a fair amount of overlap in terms of the tools that they use. Teachers and administrators, on the other hand, probably are not using technology near as often. Also, they likely have relatively little crossover between the specialized technology systems they use at work (e.g., student information systems, electronic gradebooks, PowerPoint, parent portal software, and “clickers” for formative assessment) and what they use at home (e.g., digital photo management, games). What overlap does exist is probably mostly in the arenas of e-mail, word processing, and browsing the Internet. Finally, as we know, students’ personal lives usually are much more technology-rich at home than at school. They use many more tools, most of which are not allowed during the school day.

So, what are we to do?

My own experience with middle school science students is that the types of technology they are most familiar with (cell phones, IMing, video games, iPods) are not in sync with what they use in school (word processing, blogs, podcasts).

To some degree, I have tried to span this gap by training them in the "school tech," as well as trying to make us of the technology with which they are familiar.

I find myself in different places on different days about in the conversation about preparing them for the 21st century workplace. I am not sure they we can predict well what technology needs are going to be in 10 years (which is good thing). I do think, however, that we can be more reasonably sure about what makes for engaging learning. Anyplace we can close this gap and make their everyday tech tools part of the normal learning environment, we have made learning relevant in a powerful way.

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