TDLE Post #4

The last three readings we did for our TLDE Class were great, simply for the fact that they encapsulated what the class was all about. It was a kind of a full circle-type reading session. This class has always been about technology and how we can implement it in the classroom. Cynthia Selfe’s article titled “Technology and Literacy: A Story about the Perils of Not Paying Attention” presented a history of technology in the classroom and the problems we still face in making it accessible to children from all races and backgrounds. The article especially alluded to the Clinton/Gore administration in June of 1996 and how they put a premium of computers in the classroom; and how they believed that every child needed access to a computer. The Secretary of Education at the time, Richard Riley, spearheaded this movement at the time expected to cost up to $109 billion. This would come from a variety of sources at the national, state and local levels. While many states started to implement this, we quickly saw how it drained resources from other areas of schools. Districts had to cut aid to schools, yet spend $10 million on classroom computers. Other districts in parts of the country dropped teaching positions in music, art and physical education yet spent hundreds of thousands on computers. It was not only the computers that they were spending the money on; it was the supplemental tools that went along with it as well. Instructional materials, maintenance, refurbishment of old computers, infrastructure, hardware and software purchases and establishing networks all cost money as well. This wasn’t a case of just buying computers and presenting them to students and telling them “now get technologically literate,” it was a whole process that would take years and lots of money to implement. The question years later naturally turned to how well did it work? That just depends on who you ask. One aspect you must look at is how are these computers and resources being distributed? If you get “x” amount of computers and resource tools but a disproportionate amount of schools, how do you spread the wealth? According to the article, computers still continue to be distributed differentially among the related axes of race and socioeconomic status. The article states that it’s a fact “that schools primarily serving students of color and poor students continue to have less access to computers, and access to less sophisticated computer equipment than do schools primarily serving more affluent and white students (Coley et al. 3).” This inequality could prove to have disastrous consequences for students that fall farther behind the eight-ball in terms of opportunities. We obviously live in an extremely fast technologically paced professional world, and if Black or Hispanic students aren’t up to speed by the time they enter the working world, this puts them at a disadvantage compared to a white student who had used a computer from elementary school. If this is something that sounds hard to believe, it isn’t; and the statistics don’t lie. The trickle down effects include white’s being significantly more likely than African American’s to have a home computer in their household (73% of whites have them compared to 32% of African Americans). Not only this, but if white students don’t have a computer at home and African Americans do, they are accessing one from the home a friend or relative, library or community center. This show’s that white students could possibly be taught how to better use their resources around them. No matter what way we look at the statistics and what we interpret from them, as well as find ways to fix problems, it all boils down to improving educational literacy. This is something the article believes is a political act. As the Clinton administration prepared to take over in 1992, they had targeted technology as a key factor in domestic and international economic policies. The country was facing issues in manufacturing and productivity, persistent poverty, and an increase in the gap between the rich and the poor. The implementation and education of technological literacy was the target to inject new vigor into the domestic economy. The administration believed this would be a deciding factor into how their administration would be viewed; how their legacy would be cemented. This article was quick to remind us that the implementation, or rather the proper implementation, of technology in the classroom in essence was a small pawn on a giant global chessboard. You move the rooks to get to the queen. If you lose a few of them, who cares as long as you get to your goal? That’s ultimately where I believe the disproportion of technology education in America had been distributed. Enough of the depressing reality of it though, and lets turn our attention to the other articles we read, which fall in line more with how our class has been operated all semester. In the article “Students Respect the Badge,” it alludes to how Dr. Campbell has been allowing us to use our blog posts. The audience is not so much about her, but it is the classroom. Students write the blogs and rest of the class comments on it. I agree wholeheartedly with the author’s stance on effort. I personally write these blogs to the best of my ability, but I am cognizant to the fact that my classmates, who are a much larger audience than just Dr. Campbell, will be reading and critiquing my work. I also have a duty to write thoughtful blog entries simply for the fact that I must give everyone something to comment on. It can’t be boring or general; I must provide a richly-written piece that can initiate a good virtual conversation. Dr. Campbell obviously doesn’t use badges, but maybe it would be more fun. This is something that the next article, titled “Why Gamification?” alludes to, as well as the end of “Students Respect the Badge.” According to the article, handing out badges promotes a continuing of education among students. Grades promote a discontinuation of learning once the students know they have a good, solid grade. Conversely, it might discourage a student from learning if they have low grades. They might give up. Gamification, or the use of game-design elements for a non-game purpose, uses badges that the author believes works because it marks progress or achievements without stopping forward momentum. Even though I’ve never personally seen this done, I think it’s an intriguing way of rewarding or encouraging students. It also eliminates the grade-hunters, or the students just interested in the letter grade that don’t actually try and learn something. This could be especially useful in college, where GPA rules above all. You would just need to find a way to refine it. One of the first things I think of when I think of badging is how child-like it might seem. You would have to find a way to make it adult-like so college students take it seriously. In conclusion, these three articles encapsulate what our course was about, and I’m excited to take the perspective of technology in the classroom and use it for the future.

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