Friday, October 21, 2005

In-house digital divide

So much is made of the digital divide between countries, social and economic classes. Today I witnessed another one, smaller scale, but just as real.

In my daily reading group, there are kids from all three third grade classrooms. Today, for the first time, I put them each (15) on a computer for a writing assignment. The content was not hard - the challenging part was the medium. As I assigned computers, I put kids from my own classroom in places where they could help the others, who I knew would have problems - and I explained this to the kids, too. Naturally, my kids felt pleased I was counting on them to help teach - and they did a great job helping the others.

My kids write on a computer at least twice a day. After six weeks of third grade, their word processing skills are getting pretty good. In contrast, the other third graders who came in were stumped at times, with questions like, "how do I get down to the next line?" or "how do I erase that?" Truly, there were kids from my class who quietly shook their heads in disbelief.

I figure my school is pretty typical. My classroom is not, in terms of tech usage and integration. The gap I saw today, after just the beginning of the school year, will widen as the school year goes on.

I don't know what to make of this exactly, except to feel bad that others are being left in tech dust. I truly believe this early prep will make my kids not only stronger masters of technology as they go through school - but better learners of systems - more adaptable, flexible, and curious - and stonger, more confident learners in general.

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