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Maria's WK 10 discussion prompt

Sanchez-Serano (2008) talks about the difficulties in distance learning, and some of us may have experienced some of these difficulties in our last class. Many of these problems dealt with the technology itself. However, Sanchez-Serano mentions a more ethical concern dealing with the digital divide, and asks how this divide affects distance learning, in particular foreign language teaching. So, my question is have you seen first hand the effects of the digital divide in distance learning - foreign language? If not what do you think are the effects? What are some ways teachers and/or ELLs can overcome the digital divide?


Mar. 29th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
I have not seen the effects of the digital divide in distance learning first hand except what we have experienced in our class which is miniscule. However, I am aware that not all schools or households have the same access or the opportunity with the technology to learn and benefit from such experiences. Consider some of these statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce (Carvin, 2000):
• Households earning incomes over $75,000 are over 20 times more likely to have home Internet access than those at the lowest income levels.
• Only 6.6 percent of people with an elementary school education or less use the Internet.
• In rural areas, those with college degrees are 11 times more likely to have a home computer and 26 times more likely to have home Internet access than those with an elementary school education.
• People with college degrees or higher are 10 times more likely to have Internet access at work as persons with only some high school education.
The digital divide directly affects not only the level of education one might achieve but the economic status as well in finding employment in today’s technologically charged society.
The gap of digital divide is even wider globally. It is impossible to reach students in some sections of the world while some students are just a click away. Distance language learning via CMC is only a possibility to those with the access. Until there are significant changes made politically to equip every household with the technology, the only thing ELL teachers can do is to accommodate each students at their level of access.
Apr. 7th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your comment, especially for the statistics, that was very interesting. I agree that it distance learning is only possible in countries or places with access to technology. It is something teachers need to be aware of especially teachers who plan to travel and teach in foreign countries. You are right accomadation is probably the best and only way to overcome the digital divide. However, I wonder if there are other things that can be done such as fundraising, asking for donations or grants, and/or teaching those in power the importance of technology in schools, so they may consider giving more money to schools for technology.


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