I have just read Judy O’Connell’s inspiring blog post called ‘Digital Divide’ where she highlights the growing concern of the digital divide between student’s technical knowledge and that of their teachers. So THANKYOU Jude for highlighting this glaringly obvious issue.
Teachers and parents need find opportunities to bring themselves up to speed on the educational, social and networking tools available to our youth. Our students are so tech savvy but still far too naive. They must have adults to help guide their decision making. Another interesting read is ’Always Connected‘ report written by Aviva Lucas Gutnick, Michael Robb, Lori Takeuchi and Jennifer Kotler. Outlined are snapshot findings, media usage is traced throughout recent decades and startling key findings.
Now that internet connection is so mobile and so private and so very very hard to monitor, the lack of knowledge of supervising adults compounds the growing divide. Who in their right mind would take on an upper primary or secondary maths class if they themselves cannot function past their 3X tables? Sadly it can happen with technology at every level.
I now work with those educators who are willing to put their hand up for online mentoring in web 2 tools where basic ICT knowledge is a perquisite for the course. Passion and thirst for knowledge essential. It never ceases to amaze me that even the ICT literate adults are gobsmacked at the variety, power, availability and ease with which these web2 tools can be utilised for education. And so the seed is planted. And grows. The questions and discussions inevitably turn to adult responsibility and student digital citizenship.
In term 4, 2010, a 10 week Web2 Tools online diocesan course was offered as a trial in the hope of drawing in about 20 teachers seeking Institute Teacher accreditation and we were swamped with 70 applicants! A reality check gave 52 applicants the opportunity to do the first ever Web2 Tools for Teachers course. 44 completed the course amongst the pressures of the final weeks of the year.
This year I am working in team to create more such courses and mentor up to 100 participants a term in Web2 Tools, Beyond Web2 and Digital Citizenship. Nearly 90 people from the teaching ranks, principals, assistant principals, teacher librarians and CEO personnel are working on line this term. A few of those 8 teachers who did not complete last year’s course will join the current group mid course. More teachers have asked to join future courses along with CEO leaders, principals, assistant principals, teacher librarians, SSOs (support staff for IT) and teachers aides.
Now we are happily scrambling to support these educators to close that divide through online mentoring. The success of these courses spread through word of mouth: teachers who were keen to learn more and support their students have encouraged others to jump on board.
They are out there and we are here.
By accident or design we need to find ways to break the bubble of ’not knowing what they don’t know’ and close that gap.