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Meaningful Learning With Technology and the Digital Divide

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John Wooden, famed basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins has been attributed to saying that “the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession.”(Wooden, 2018) But, what happens when said profession is constantly needing to keep up with change? Curriculum change? Socio-economic change? Cultural change? Technology change? Educators are expected to keep up with all of these changes with very little guidance from their respective school districts. According to the National Education Association, “teachers spend an average of 50 hours per week on instructional duties, including an average of 12 hours each week on non-compensated school-related activities such as grading papers, bus duty, and club advising.

” (Higley). One of the latest hot-button topics is the digital divide. The digital divide is defined as “the gap between people who have sufficient knowledge of and access to technology and those who do not”. (ACT.org) Educators, especially across the state of Oklahoma, are being put into a position where they are having to navigate what resources are available to bridge this divide.

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Furthermore, what deepens that divide isn’t always the availability of the technological resource but the teacher’s ability and understanding to instruct the students.

Though this is not a problem unique to Oklahoma, it certainly plays a large role in why Oklahoma has had a difficult time keeping highly qualified teachers in the state. According to the 2018 Oklahoma Educator Supply & Demand Report published in February 2019, “Oklahoma educators leaving the profession has increased over the past six years, representing more than 5,000 per year or a total of approximately 30,000. This exodus represents an average of 10 percent of Oklahoma’s teacher workforce, in comparison to a national attrition rate of 7.7 percent.”(“New report reveals”, 2019) Those statistics, though alarming, are not really surprising when you talk to current educators in the state. In addition to all the state mandated testing, teachers are expected to be able to provide each student with differentiated, individualized instruction all while keeping the students actively engaged. In my own school, like countless other schools throughout Oklahoma, teachers are required to prepare students for tests that in no way indicate their actual intelligence. In Meaningful Learning with Technology, the authors hit the nail on the head when they state; “learning to take tests does not result in meaningful learning.”(Howland, Jonassen & Marra, 2012) This statement factors directly into the digital divide as students that have access, exposure and instruction with the digital world are better prepared to be successful in school and life than those without. This is especially true now since the State of Oklahoma is pushing for all state testing to be done electronically, including third-grade testing and beyond. “Teachers can’t single-handedly solve the problem of technology access for equal education. They can, however, make a big difference.”(Ripton, 2016)

The digital divide, to some extent, was removed from Piedmont Public Schools around eight years ago. At this time period the district decided to go one to one with Google Chromebooks. Since then every student has had access to a Chromebook from 3rd grade to high school. This helps eliminate the digital divide in regards to access at school, and to some extent the instruction and exposure to technology as teachers are required to use platforms like Google Classroom for their instruction. We, as a district, are not paperless but in this digital age, we are close to it. Introducing technology into the classroom was once hoped to provide the teacher with assistance in making those expectations a reality, but perhaps it has had the adverse effect. “Teachers aren’t coming out of college well-prepared to navigate this new digital environment. And for teachers already in the workforce, professional development hasn’t kept up with the pace of technological change.” (Herold, 2019) This is certainly the case in my district. We have the luxury of 1 to 1 correspondence, but not enough educator training on how we should be implementing usage correctly. Even though we have an abundance of excellent educators.

Michael Robb, research director for Common Sense says the digital divide today is about quality of usage, not access. (“A New Digital Divide”, 2018)Furthermore Ricahrdson states that, “We are denying students the opportunity to more meaningful learning and more meaningful learning that uses technology if we don’t include both human relationships and technology when we talk about the concept.”(Richardson, n.d) All too often technology is used as a replacement of a traditional textbook instead of an exceptional tool for meaningful learning. .

As the digital divide continues to shift from accessibility of technology to proper implementation of technology, perhaps the better question is what will administrators do in order to ensure that teachers are able to keep up with the demands of their students so that their students are able to have meaningful connections in education while fully utilizing the technology that is being provided to them. At the end of the day, “good teaching cannot be reduced to technique but is rooted in the identity and integrity of the teacher”. (Palmer) This statement by Palmer resorts back to the root of this digital divide.

References

  1. A New Digital Divide in Education Emerges. (2018, August 6). Retrieved from https://online.uwsuper.edu/articles/digital-divide-in-education.aspx.
  2. Herold, B. (2019, February 20). Poor Students Face Digital Divide in How Teachers Learn to Use Tech. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/06/14/poor-students-face-digital-divide-in-teacher-technology-training.html.
  3. Home/Digital Divide. ACT, https://www.act.org/.
  4. Higley, D. (2018, May 8). New Data Shows Educators Work 11 Hours Overtime per Week. Retrieved from https://blog.tsheets.com/2018/news/teacher-appreciation-day.
  5. Howland, J. L., Jonassen, D. H., Marra, R. M., & Jonassen, D. H. (2012). Meaningful learning with technology. Boston: Pearson.
  6. I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession. – John Wooden. (2018, July 28). Retrieved from https://www.allgreatquotes.com/quote-193808/.
  7. New report reveals 30,000 educators have left profession in 6 years. (19AD, February 2). Retrieved from https://sde.ok.gov/newsblog/2019-02-12/new-report-reveals-30000-teachers-have-left-profession-6-years.
  8. Palmer, P. (1998). The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.
  9. Richardson, W. (2014, November 21). ‘Meaningful Learning’ in a Digital Age. Retrieved from https://modernlearners.com/meaningful-learning/.
  10. Ripton, J. T. (2016, July 21). Retrieved from https://www.powerschool.com/resources/blog/teachers-can-narrow-digital-divide-classrooms/
  11. Warschauer, M. (2007, December 7). A Teacher’s Place in the Digital Divide. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1744-7984.2007.00118.x.

Cite this Meaningful Learning With Technology and the Digital Divide

Meaningful Learning With Technology and the Digital Divide. (2021, May 27). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/meaningful-learning-with-technology-and-the-digital-divide/

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