In my computers and technology in the classroom course, we had a discussion on technological equity and the idea of a “digital divide” in the classroom. Although I have never taught or worked in the school setting, this is a topic I recently wondered about. An upper elementary-aged child I previously nannied regularly had homework which needed to be completed online. She had a laptop (which was not provided by the school) on which she would do her homework each evening. Even essays and other written assignments were required to be typed and submitted online. I honestly found this shocking – considering the fact that not all families can afford to buy a personal computer for each of their children, let alone themselves!
During our class discussion, we touched on how some students have all of the new technology, while other students may not have any technology at home at all. Although it would be amazing for every teacher to be able to regularly “flip the classroom“, quiz students instantaneously with Peardeck, or take advantage of all of the other wonderful interactive educational tools out there, for some teachers it may not seem plausible, or even possible.
Although it is a challenging situation, I have thought of a couple ways in which teachers who are experiencing a digital divide among their students can still use technology in their classroom. One idea is to focus your energy on involving technology while students are actually in the classroom! Have students interact with the SmartBoard or try a non-traditional “flipped” classroom (only in-class!). Another great idea is to give homework assignments which have an option to use technology, but it is not required. For example, give students the option to type their essays or hand-write them. Additionally, ensure that all students are aware of their local library and computer lab options that they may be able to take advantage of, if applicable.
It may take some research and creativity, but any teacher can find ways to involve technology in their classroom in some way or another – regardless of level of technological inequality their students face.