Increasing Understanding of Technology and Communication

Limited Access with Smartphone Only Internet

Smartphone-Only-Internet

For many of us, access to the Internet through a variety of means is a given.  I can gain access through two laptops, a tablet, a smartphone and even both of my game systems, all from the comfort of my living room.

However, this access is unequally distributed.  Although reports state nine out of 10 low-income families have Internet access at home, most are under-connected: that is, they have “mobile-only” access – they are able to connect to the Internet only through a smart device, such as a tablet or a smartphone.

A recent report, “Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in low-income families,” shows that one-quarter of those earning below the median income and one-third of those living below poverty level accessed the Internet only through their mobile devices.

This leads to limited access: A third of families with mobile-only access quickly hit the data limits on their mobile phone plans and about a quarter have their phone service cut off for lack of payment.

So what impact does this type of access have on youth learning?

What changes with a computer connection?

My research has explored underserved youth’s use of technology to discover and participate in content related to their interests.  Having access only through their mobile devices means that low-income families and youth do not have the same access to the Internet as those with other Internet connections.

One-fifth of families who access the Internet the mobile-only say too many family members have to share one device.  This means that the amount of time each individual has to access the Internet is limited.  This can be a serious barrier to learning for young people.  It can limit their access to resources to complete their homework, as well as create barriers for other learning.  While 35% of youth with mobile-only access look online for information about things they are interested in, for young people with a computer connection this jumps to 52%.

An example of youth accomplishment online comes from my 2014 research on a professional wrestling fan community, a set of forums where professional wrestling fans get together virtually to discuss the many facets of professional wrestling.

Maria, a professional wrestling fan, seeks out an online community because she lacks local support for her interest.  Through her participation, she realizes her deep enjoyment of writing.  The carries this back into her English class and the school newspaper.  This eventually leads her to take creative writing as a second degree in college.

Maria spent hours on her computer carefully crafting her narratives while participating in the forum.  With a mobile-only access, she would not have had the amount of time online, or the amount of bandwidth, required for this work.  This is supported by the fact that only 31% of children with mobile-only access go online daily as compared to 51% of those with other Internet access.

How low-income family youth get left behind

Mobile-only access the Internet can create serious barriers for youth who want to access content and educational supports.  Also, there are some online programs that are not yet available on mobile devices.

Need for better understanding

What becomes evident is data from “Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in low-income families” and from examples from research is that having access to the Internet only through a phone can have an impact on young people’s access to learning opportunities.

Designers, educators and researchers need to be aware and continually create more equity through mindful decision-making.

Just how young people access online, in other words, matters – a lot.

Read Article (Crystle Martin | theconversation.com | 02/11/2016)

Marketing for mobile devices should also be mindful of this youth learning issue, the marketing slogan that includes “a mobile device will replace a computer” is baseless and highly improbable.  Personally, I view such statements as “misleading”.

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Reflections of Bridging the Digital Education Divide

Digital-Education-Divide

The recently released World Development Report by World Bank states that we are in the midst of the greatest informational and communication revolution in human history.  It also states that more than 40% of the world’s population has access to the Internet.  Technologies are now more than ever connecting individuals, organizations and governments in unprecedented ways.  Indeed, technology is revolutionizing health, education, and trade among many sectors.

The report also notes that there are many who are still left out in the technological revolution.  It is important to bridge this gap, and it is important to assist bridging of this gap through services and investment in digital learning (Worldwide).  The world (especially the developing world) shall remain unchanged if we do not extend the benefits of technology in the widest possible ways to people of all backgrounds.

Young people (who are actually the majority of the developing world) who will benefit from this will later spearhead changes that will solve challenges of today and tomorrow.  The report highlights learning and establishing a foundation of skills that begins at birth and extends through one’s lifetime.  Strengthened Early Childhood Development education systems should become the foundation, forming a basis of cognitive development.

Rachel Plus is a service which provides educational resources, neatly packaged together for download and distribution in places without internet.  This service, provided by World Possible, should be extended to schools with off-line educational content.  Gamification, digital learning charts by Heko Kuu, and other digital techniques should be introduced in pre-schools.

The report brings into question the educational curriculum being offered by schools and institutions.  Are courses offered that prepare students for available jobs?  Are courses offered that increase family wellbeing?  Is carpentry included?  According to a 2015 Delloite Company study, some companies are even looking for skills in creativity, strategic and critical thinking.  Indeed, this is a world in digital evolution.  This is why projects like Bridge International Academies, BRICK, Tablab, African Maths Initiative, and World Possible, among other organizations, are working hard to promote digital literacy.

Methods such as gamification as employed by African Maths Initiative has helped boost mathematical literacy among high school students in Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana.  Through team work, the students were able to create games using simple programming languages.

Even though there are mixed views in course development and digital learning, we need to understand that the world has moved on from analog to digital.  And an emphasis on teacher training should be made, we can have no delusions, simply making technology accessible will not automatically translate into positive outcomes.  Effective guidance from qualified teachers is a must.

Read Article (Patrick Njoroge | africanmathsinitiative.net | 01/20/2016)

The digital Era is all-pervasive, and any individual without access to the internet and usage knowledge of devices to use it, might as well be living on another planet.  Our service is all about assistance in gaining or upgrading knowledge of both, please support our funding campaign efforts.

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Pioneering Use of Technology Transforms Teaching

Technology-Transforms-Teach

During a trip to the remote 3,000-person village of Kotzebue, Alaska early October 2015, President Barack Obama choose to highlight the need for access to technology for students. The President noted that unfortunately, fewer than 40% of America’s schools are able to effectively access the Internet and use technology tools as part of their teaching. Ultimately, improving connectivity will help transform the classroom experience for all students, regardless of family income. And for children without Internet access at home, making it available at school means leveling the playing field and providing opportunity for a much broader group of students.

According to researchers at the Brookings Institute, a D.C. based think tank, Anchorage, Alaska is listed second in the top 10 most wired cities across America.

My own school district in New Rochelle, New York is already working to narrow the digital divide. We began in the spring by installing four outdoor wireless Wi-Fi access points at one of our elementary schools, where more than 80% of children receive free or reduced lunch, to enable community access in the surrounding neighborhood.

Over the next three years, all eleven of our schools will be equipped to provide wireless, filtered Wi-Fi access to our students within a half mile of each school. Our primary goal is to continue and further extend our support for teaching college and career readiness skills in technology, skills that will enable our students to succeed in whatever post-secondary pursuits they may have.

A powerful example of bringing technology to student classrooms – is the innovative program in high school English teacher Anthony Stirpe’s film class, where he uses mobile filmmaking to transform the way he teaches and his students learn. Stirpe gives his students an assignment to pick a poem, which they use as a basis to write a film script. Once they have developed scripts to make a short film, the assignment takes an unexpected turn. Stirpe has thrown out traditional cameras and turned to a future of filmmaking, with students shooting, editing and finalizing their films using only an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

As a result of their mobile filmmaking work, many of the students have rediscovered a strong desire to lean and a passion for writing. Stirpe summed it up this way: “I feel very fortunate that our district has been so supportive with this new film initiative, and I see this course as more than just a film course. It has changed the way students read and write. The fact that they walk away from my class knowing they carry around a device with the power to share their stories and their voices is part of what makes New Rochelle such a special place.”

It is our responsibility as educational leaders to support just this kind of creative classroom assignment. As we endeavor to erase the digital divide among our students and in our communities, we must all work to reinforce way to harness the powerful resources for learning that exist in the increasingly technology-rich world.

Read Article (Brian G Osborne | huffingtonpost.com | 10/01/2015)

Learning to use products of technology can truly open and entire world of new possibilities and opportunities for anyone from any walk of life. Knowledge is simply, Everything!

By applying proven technology design and methodologies, Social City Net has created an easily accessible, effective method of assisting individuals learning to use the products of technology, in our increasingly technology-rich world.

But making this resource available to the millions in need, requires your support. Please help us assist them.

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