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Pepperdine University
Graduate School of Education and Psychology
TECHNOLOGY IN SCHOOLS: A DESCRIPTIVE STUDY OF COMPUTER U...
UMI Number: 3213231
Copyright 2005 by
Robinson, Sharon Valear Williams
All rights reserved.
INFORMATION TO USERS
The quali...
This dissertation written by
Sharon Valear Williams Robinson
under the guidance of a Faculty committee and approved by its...
Copyright by
Sharon Valear Williams Robinson
December, 2005
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Reproduced with perm ission of the copyrig...
IV
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES..........................................................................................
V
Studies Concerning the Digital Divide in American Public Schools.............................49
The Consequences of the ...
vi
Conclusion 1.......................................................................................................... ...
L IS T O F T A B L E S
v ii
Table Page
1 Data Analysis Chart.................................................................
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure Page
1 Access to the Internet at Home by Income.......................................................
DEDICATION
This work is dedicated to the memory of my mother
Valear Williams
Who let me live life with a strong sense of s...
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I thank
My best friend and anchor, Barbara Solomon, who always knew I should and could, do it.
My father,...
xi
Experience
Education
Credentials
Community Service
VITA
Sharon Valear Williams Robinson
August, 2003 - Present
LAUSD, L...
xii
Abstract
The purpose of this research was to examine and to explore student access to and
use of technology and the ro...
xiii
■ Overall, most of the students displayed similar distributions of software
usage at school across all ethnicities.
■...
1
Chapter 1
The Problem of Equity
Introduction
As information technology becomes more
Important for economic success and s...
2
Technology use in instructional practice provides school reform efforts with
important and significant tools to improve ...
3
but is also crucial in making that student eligible for future employment” (p. 54).
“Inadequate access to technology not...
4
the rubric of school reform, many change efforts were introduced into public schools in
an attempt to restructure Americ...
5
effort are appropriate for all students, not just those who are academically
advanced, affluent, or older, (p. xi)
Inher...
6
It is in the best interest of both today’s young people and the nation as a
whole that all students have an opportunity ...
7
education rate, better known as the E-Rate, was given to the Federal Communications
Commission to implement. Through gra...
8
Statement o f the Problem
With the nation and the world involved in global communication, the Digital
Divide challenges ...
9
learning (Gladieux & Swail, 1999). Few studies have been completed on the effect a
highly technological school has on br...
10
from a student survey and interviews with students, staff, parents, and key players in
developing this diverse highly t...
11
Assumptions
This research on the Digital Divide provides information that can be used to
compare other schools to the o...
12
Therefore, generalizations to other schools and students cannot necessarily be made from
the findings of this study.
De...
13
Organization o f the Dissertation
The dissertation is organized into five chapters. These chapters are briefly
summariz...
Student Technology Survey on the school’s LAN and sixth, seventh, and eighth graders
completed it. The investigator perfor...
15
Chapter 2
Review of the Literature
Introduction
The origin of the term Digital Divide is somewhat uncertain. The term i...
16
communication though Internet technology, the concept of accessibility takes on greater
importance in American homes an...
17
classes online, use the Internet to conduct research and investigate issues, and
communicate using e-mail. Up-to-date i...
18
The NCES conducted the most recent study of the E-Rate program and found that
schools have been the largest beneficiary...
19
driven nation, with every institution being impacted by the Internet, the American
population is separating into groups...
20
100
90
80
70
S> 60
S
£ 50
fc!
S. 40
30
20
10
0
Figure 1. Access to the Internet at Home by Income (NCES, October, 2003)...
21
In essence, information “have-nots” are disproportionately found in rural and
central cities areas. Though most persons...
22
The 1997 data demonstrate that, as a nation, Americans have increasingly
embraced the Information Age through electroni...
23
ability to connect to the information infrastructure. Native Americans in rural areas
possessed the fewest telephones f...
24
use of computer and telecommunications technologies, including the Internet. This
structural change is of potentially v...
25
The U.S. can avert a potentially devastating new social inequality between the
digitally literate 'haves' and 'have-not...
26
accomplishments of more advantaged students without helping, or even doing
harm, to disadvantaged students, (p. 1)
The ...
27
The Growth o f Technology in U.S. Public Education
The penetration of technology into American public education has pro...
28
all U.S. public school students in grades 1 through 12 used the Internet at school (NCES,
2003, p. 12). Increasingly, m...
29
usage between 1993 and 1996. Surprisingly, though, 5% of the schools in the Barron et
al.’s sample said that both their...
30
100
90
80
70
Male Female
Figure 3: Access to the Internet by Gender (NCES, October, 2003).
As noted earlier, Becker and...
31
Some evidence exists that being in a racial minority group is related with digital
technology access of public students...
32
computer are allocating a larger proportion of their financial resources to computing
technology” (p. 143). But Alspaug...
33
86
84
82
80
<u
Cl(a
% 78
uL -
Q)
76
74
72
70
Figure 4: Students Who Use the Internet at School by Income (NCES, 2003).
...
34
80
70
60
<u 50
Ui
B
g 40
20
10
0
Figure 5: Students in Public Schools (1-12) with Internet Access at Home by income
(NC...
35
White African-American Hispanic
Figure 6: Students Who Use the Internet Once a Week at School by Race (NCES, 2000).
The...
36
only 28% of all African-American students and 28% of all Hispanic public school
students had a personal computer in the...
37
suburban and high-income urban school districts, on the one hand, and both rural and
low-income inner city neighborhood...
38
ability students were exposed to a much wider array of computer uses, whereas low-
ability students were constrained to...
39
Merely occasional usage and/or usage confined to comparatively simple tasks
(e.g., keyboarding, surfing the Web) do not...
40
incorporating related textual, graphical, or simulated learning materials available or
simulated learning materials ava...
41
In terms of obsolete equipment, American schools have more up-to-date
computers today than was the case in the early 19...
42
maintenance, and for developing the technological skills of teachers and other staff
members. Typically schools and sch...
43
upon local property tax necessarily yields gross inequalities. Many school districts do not
have an adequate tax base r...
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide
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Technology in schools:A descriptive study of computer usage in a school and its effect on bridging the digital divide

  1. 1. Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology TECHNOLOGY IN SCHOOLS: A DESCRIPTIVE STUDY OF COMPUTER USAGE IN A SCHOOL AND ITS EFFECT ON BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction Of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership By Sharon Valear Williams Robinson December, 2005 Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  2. 2. UMI Number: 3213231 Copyright 2005 by Robinson, Sharon Valear Williams All rights reserved. INFORMATION TO USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted. Broken or indistinct print, colored or poor quality illustrations and photographs, print bleed-through, substandard margins, and improper alignment can adversely affect reproduction. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if unauthorized copyright material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. ® UMI UMI Microform 3213231 Copyright 2006 by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. This microform edition is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code. ProQuest Information and Learning Company 300 North Zeeb Road P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, Ml 48106-1346 Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  3. 3. This dissertation written by Sharon Valear Williams Robinson under the guidance of a Faculty committee and approved by its members, has been submitted to and accepted by the Graduate Faculty in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF EDUCATION September 29, 2004 Faculty Committee Lind^Xj. Polm, Ph.D., Chairperson F. McManus, Ph.D. lings, Ed.D.Terrence R. Chester H. McCall, Ph.D. Associate Dean Margaret'J. WebeffPh.D. Dean Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  4. 4. Copyright by Sharon Valear Williams Robinson December, 2005 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  5. 5. IV TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................ vii LIST OF FIGURES...........................................................................................................viii DEDICATION.................................................................................................................. ix ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS..............................................................................................x VITA..................................................................................................................................xi ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................xii CHAPTER 1: THE PROBLEM OF EQUITY...............................................................1 Introduction........................................................................................................................1 Background........................................................................................................................1 Technology, Access and School Reform.................................................................. 3 Statement of the Problem.................................................................................................8 Study Purpose................................................................................................................... 9 Research Questions...........................................................................................................10 Significance of the Study..................................................................................................10 Assumptions.......................................................................................................................11 Limitations.........................................................................................................................11 Definition of Terms...........................................................................................................12 Digital Divide....................................................................................................... 12 High technological school....................................................................................12 Internet.................................................................................................................. 12 Technology Literacy............................................................................................ 12 Access................................................................................................................... 12 Accessibility......................................................................................................... 12 Telecommunications............................................................................................ 12 Universal Service..................................................................................................12 E-Rate................................................................................................................... 12 Organization of the Dissertation............................................................................... 13 Summary............................................................................................................................13 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE........................................................ 15 Introduction........................................................................................................................15 The E-Rate as a Response to the Digital Divide in U.S. Public Schools...............16 Closer Look at the Digital Divide.............................................................................19 Falling Through the Net Reports...............................................................................20 The Growth of Technology in US Public Schools......................................................... 27 The Main Fault-Lines of the Digital Divide...................................................................29 The Digital Divide in American Public Schools.............................................................38 Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  6. 6. V Studies Concerning the Digital Divide in American Public Schools.............................49 The Consequences of the Digital Divide in American Public Schools..........................55 Government Policy Responses to the Digital Divide in American Public Schools 59 Summary.............................................................................................................................61 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY..................................................................................63 Purpose of the Study........................................................................................................63 Research Design............................................................................................................... 65 Instruments for Data Collection...................................................................................... 66 Focus Group............................................................................................................... 66 Pilot Testing of Student Survey................................................................................67 Internet Student Technology Survey........................................................................68 Interview Protocol..................................................................................................... 70 Classroom Observation Checklist............................................................................ 71 Student Interviews..................................................................................................... 72 School Case......................................................................................................................72 Student Sample................................................................................................................ 75 Sources of Data and Instruments for Data Collection................................................... 75 Data Collection Procedures.............................................................................................77 Source of Data.................................................................................................................. 79 Document Analysis...................................................................................................80 Validity of Instruments.................................................................................................... 80 Reliability of Instruments................................................................................................82 Human Subjects Considerations.....................................................................................82 Procedures for Data Analysis......................................................................................... 83 Summary...........................................................................................................................84 CHAPTER 4: RESULTS OF THE STUDY................................................................. 85 Introduction.......................................................................................................................85 Research Questions..........................................................................................................85 Demographics: Survey Results................................................................................ 87 Student Access to Computers: Survey Results....................................................... 88 Types of Computer Activities: Survey Results....................................................... 93 Observations and Student Interviews.......................................................................103 Comparison to National Data....................................................................................107 Summary...........................................................................................................................118 CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS 119 Introduction...................................................................................................................... 119 Limitations of the Study..................................................................................................120 Research Question 1: Which Students at this School Use Computers and the Internet?.............................................................................121 Review of Findings............................................................................................. 121 Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  7. 7. vi Conclusion 1.......................................................................................................... 122 Conclusion 2.......................................................................................................... 123 Research Question 2: Where do the Students Use Computers and the Internet? .. 123 Review of Findings............................................................................................... 123 Conclusion 1 ......................................................................................................... 124 Conclusion 2.......................................................................................................... 124 Research Question 3: In What Kind of Computer Activities do these Students Engage?....................................................................................................................... 124 Review of Findings................................................................................................124 Conclusion 1.......................................................................................................... 127 Conclusion 2.......................................................................................................... 127 Research Question 4: Is computer Use by Students related to Demographic Characteristics such as Race/Ethnicity, Gender or other Factors?...........................127 Review of Findings................................................................................................127 Conclusion 1.......................................................................................................... 128 Conclusion 2.......................................................................................................... 129 Summary.............................................................................................................................129 Recommendations .............................................................................................................130 Recommendations for Further Research..........................................................................131 Final Thoughts...................................................................................................................133 References...........................................................................................................................135 Appendix A: Standard Student Workstation Software...................................................143 Appendix B: Tenets of the School................................................................................... 145 Appendix C: Focus Group.................................................................................................146 Appendix D: Student’s Technology Survey.................................................................... 147 Appendix E: Teacher, Parent, and StaffInterview Guide.............................................. 154 Appendix F: Classroom Observation of Students Using Technology...........................155 Appendix G: Student Interview Guide.............................................................................156 Appendix H: Letter to the principal of the School.......................................................... 157 Appendix I: Email to the middle school teachers and Instructions for the Internet Student Survey.....................................................................................................159 Appendix J: Article for the School’s Newsletter.............................................................160 Appendix K: Permission/Release Form...........................................................................161 Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  8. 8. L IS T O F T A B L E S v ii Table Page 1 Data Analysis Chart..................................................................................................76 2 Demographics, Question 29, Grade......................................................................... 87 3 Demographics, Question 30, Ethnicity.....................................................................87 4 Demographics, Question 31, Gender........................................................................ 88 5 Demographics, Question 34, Years Attended this School...................................... 88 6 Location of Computer Use, Questions 4 and 5 ...................................................... 89 7 Types of Technology Resources Available to Students at School, Question 7 ....90 8 Types of Technology Resources Available to Students at Home, Question 8 .....91 9 Access to the Internet, Questions 9 and 10............................................................. 92 10 Frequency with Which Students Check Email, Questions 11 and 12.................... 93 11 Frequency with Which Students Browse the Web, Questions 13 and 14..............94 12 Frequency with Which Students use Chat Rooms or Newsgroups, Questions 15 and 16...................................................................................................95 13 Usefulness of Different Programs, Question 2 0 .....................................................96 14 Number of Times per Week Software is Used at School, Question 2 2 ................98 15 Number of Times per Week Software is Used at Home, Question 23..................100 16 Frequency and Methods with which Technology is Used for School Preparation, Question 24............................................................................................102 17 Classroom Observation of Students Using Technology.........................................104 Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  9. 9. LIST OF FIGURES Figure Page 1 Access to the Internet at Home by Income.............................................................. 20 2 Electronic Access Penetration Rate in US Households...........................................22 3 Access to the Internet by Gender............................................................................30 4 Students Who Use the Internet at School by Income............................................ 33 5 Students in Public Schools with Internet Access at Home by Income................. 34 6 Students Who Use the Internet Once a Week at School by Race.........................35 7 Access to the Internet at Home by Race...................................................................36 8 Graphic Organization of Mixed Model/Design........................................................64 9 All Students Access to Computers and the Internet..................................................108 10 Location of Computer Use at Home......................................................................... 109 11 Location of Computer Use at School....................................................................... 110 12 Location of Computer Use at Community Center...................................................110 13 Location of Computer Use at Library....................................................................... I ll 14 Access to the Internet at Home.................................................................................112 15 Access to the Internet at School................................................................................113 16 Access to Email at Home...........................................................................................114 17 Access to Email at School.........................................................................................114 18 Use of Word Processing at Home..............................................................................115 19 Use of Graphics Software at Home............................................................................116 20 Use of Spreadsheet Software at Home.......................................................................116 21 All Students Access to Computers by Gender......................................................... 117 22 All Students Access to the Internet by Gender........................................................ 117 Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  10. 10. DEDICATION This work is dedicated to the memory of my mother Valear Williams Who let me live life with a strong sense of self and social consciousness And to my husband James Russell Robinson My heart, my inspiration, my gift, who always provides unconditional love and Support Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  11. 11. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I thank My best friend and anchor, Barbara Solomon, who always knew I should and could, do it. My father, Clifford Williams, who kept the family traditions alive after my mother’s death. My son, Trenton Russell Robinson, who helped me deal with each challenge as part of the struggle to make a difference. He made me practice what I preached! My colleagues, Kip, Chaka, Debbie, Mary-Ann, and Bruce (deceased) who kept me focused by Tisten(ing) for the sound of the genuine within themselves and others.’ My dissertation chair, Linda Polin, whose frequent e-mails reminded me of what I really needed to do. And, All the public school students and teachers that have touched my life over the years...1 hope I have touched yours. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  12. 12. xi Experience Education Credentials Community Service VITA Sharon Valear Williams Robinson August, 2003 - Present LAUSD, Los Angeles, CA Superintendent, Local Region G December 2002 - August, 2003 LAUSD, Los Angeles, CA Special Assistant to the Superintendent June, 1999 - December, 2002 eEduTech, LLC - An educational consulting firm Principal Consultant 1999-2000 Xerox-LAUSD Electronic Instructional Materials (EIM) Project Educational Consultant 1997-1999 The Rice School/La Escuela Rice HISD, Houston, TX Principal 1994-1997 State of California Sacramento, CA Commissioner, Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission 1992-1997 Brentwood Science Magnet and Hyde Park Blvd. Learn Schools, LAUSD. Los Angeles, CA Principal 1989- 1992 Division of School-Based Management, LAUSD, Los Angeles, CA Administrative Consultant 1985- 1989 Region B, LAUSD, Los Angeles, CA Coordinator, Dropout Prevention/Opportunity Program 1971 - 1985 Los Angeles Unified School District. Los Angeles, CA Senior School Psychologist/School Psychologist; Teacher, K - 6 California State University at Long Beach M.A., Educational Psychology Pepperdine University B.A., Psychology California: Administrative, K - 12 Public Personnel Service, Psychology, K - 12 Standard Teaching, K - 9 Reading Specialist Texas: Administrative, K - 12 Member, Advisory Board, The Children’s Museum of Houston, 1998-2064 Vice President, Board of Directors. Girls Club of Los Angeles Member, Advisory Board. Dr. Ronald E. McNair Educational Science Literacy Foundation, 2001 -2604 Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  13. 13. xii Abstract The purpose of this research was to examine and to explore student access to and use of technology and the role schools can play in bridging the Digital Divide. Data for this research were collected from a student survey and interviews with students, staff, parents, and classroom observations of students using computers at one highly technological school. Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies were used to triangulate data collection from multiple sources to support the conclusions made, which included: ■ All students at this school, regardless of ethnicity, participated in the direct use of computers and the Internet at school. ■ All students displayed similar patterns in computer usage at home, school, community centers, and libraries. ■ Significant data were provided to support that Internet access and computer access was available to all students at this school but the same level of access was not available in the home. ■ Accessibility at the home was lower when the student was African American or Hispanic than when the student was Caucasian. ■ Much less of a disparity was present when comparing these students’ access to computers at this school and at home than that provided through national reports. ■ This school had a ratio of 1 computer for every student thereby provided an extraordinarily ability to have all students participate in the use of technology. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  14. 14. xiii ■ Overall, most of the students displayed similar distributions of software usage at school across all ethnicities. ■ Students expressed that their parents had selected this school because of the opportunity to utilize technology regularly at school. The study overall supports the major role that schools can play in narrowing the Digital Divide, but there are some critical factors that must be in place for this to happen. At the top of the list is equal access to technology and the Internet by all students. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  15. 15. 1 Chapter 1 The Problem of Equity Introduction As information technology becomes more Important for economic success and societal Well-being, the possibility of “information Apartheid” becomes increasingly real. Such A “digital divide” may mean that for many Children N-Gen means Not-Generation. Don Tapscott, 1998, Growing Up Digital, (p. 11) Background The struggle within this nation to provide educational equity for all students began, at least publicly, with the Brown v. the 1954 Board of Education decision of more than 50 years ago. In this decision, the Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal was inherently unequal (Coleman, 1966, p. 3). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 reaffirmed that “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation” In 21st Century America, this reaffirmation means having access to equitable educational resources in schools. In The Work o fNations, Reich (1992) addressed the need for early intervention preschool programs, excellent public schools in every city and region, and ample financial help to ensure, regardless of family income or race, that every person who wants to attend college can attend (p. 246-7). It is the investigator’s beliefthat, to the extent that technology is a crucial school resource and an expectation in any public school, it must be guaranteed for every public school. Technology in public schools is part of accomplishing this reaffirmation expressed in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  16. 16. 2 Technology use in instructional practice provides school reform efforts with important and significant tools to improve student performance. Evidence of the importance of technology comes from several sources. “One good decision...was to link technology with school reform. You started teaching using multiple learning styles, a democratic structure, integrated curricula, and decentralized learning” (Thornburg (1995), p.15). “Computers are part of an overall strategy designed to help facilitate change and help create dynamic learning environments where students help construct knowledge” (Gooden, 1996, p. 156). Unfortunately, technology and equitable access are not equitably distributed across American schools. That is, “Inequity of access to technology resources, including computer networks, simply mirrors the unequal distribution of every other human and material resource in public education...” (Cummins & Sayers, 1997, p. 17). Similar to economic inequities in American society, technology inequities exist across American schools. ‘The indicators show that there is a direct correlation between the economic status of a public school and the amount of computer technology and support in that school” (Bolt & Crawford, 2000, p. 31). Schools with students at higher socioeconomic status levels tend to provide access to more and to better technology than do those with students at lower socioeconomic status levels. Tapscott (1998) reported, “Access to the Internet from school, like Internet access from home, is both enabled and limited by one factor: family income” (p. 260). Technology has become a necessary tool and skill for competing in the American and in the global economy (Tapscott, 1998, p. 3). According to Bolt and Crawford (2000), “Education and employment have become more intimately entwined than ever before and access to technology is not only necessary to round out a student’s education, Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  17. 17. 3 but is also crucial in making that student eligible for future employment” (p. 54). “Inadequate access to technology not only makes it difficult for young people to find and keep a decent job, it also prevents them from participating completely in the economic and civic issues of the county and world” (McGee Banks as cited in Milone & Salpeter, 1996, p. 39). Technology is one of the primary means for people to acquire and to share information. Consequently, the ability of students to use technology is not a relatively unimportant skill, but rather an indispensable skill. Evidence of the indispensable nature of technological skills is apparent in a decade-old government report: “Nobody today can avoid technology; it has penetrated every aspect of life from the home to the job. Those unable to use it face a lifetime of menial work” (The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills [SCANS], United States Department of Labor, 1991, p. 28). The National Task Force on Educational Technology ([NTFET], 1986) reported that computer technology tools would be vital in “improving quality of learning, increasing equity of opportunity, access and quality, and ensuring greater cost effectiveness” (p. 58). Thus one critical issue inherent in school reform efforts is the extent to which equal access to technology will be provided to all students. William Kennard, Chairman ofthe Federal Communications Commission, said it best when he stated, “I believe that ensuring that all Americans have access to technology is the civil rights challenge of this new millennium” (2000, p. 4). Technology, Access, and School Reform Beginning with the publication ofA Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, United States Department of Education [USDE], 1983) America has engaged in numerous school reform efforts to improve student performance. Under Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  18. 18. 4 the rubric of school reform, many change efforts were introduced into public schools in an attempt to restructure American education: standard-based instruction, back-to-basic curriculum, bilingual programs, school-based management, decentralization, accountability measures, and a heavy reliance on accountability and testing. Over a decade of school reform efforts have occurred in which the goal of ensuring “every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship” {Goals 2000: Educate American Act, January, 1994, p. 2) has been addressed. Unfortunately for school students and for American society, school reform efforts have not been largely successful in improving student performance. “Successive waves of school reform, though not nearly as ineffectual as they are often portrayed, have failed to fully realize the improvements they promised” (Evans, 1996, p. 9). Reich (1992) wrote that most schools have not changed for the worse; they simply have not changed for the better (p. 226). Reich argued that schools fail to teach “...four basic skills: abstraction, system thinking, experimentation, and collaboration...” that are required for the new economy (p. 229). Reich also added, “What is to be learned is prepackaged into lesson plans, lectures, and textbooks. Reality has already been simplified" (p. 230). Examining the introduction of technology into school reform efforts, Herman, cited in Means (1995) commented: The school reform movement and the introduction of technology into classrooms are two of the most significant trends in education today. One of the basic messages of school reform is the challenging problems and sustained intellectual Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  19. 19. 5 effort are appropriate for all students, not just those who are academically advanced, affluent, or older, (p. xi) Inherent in technology access at school is the issue of student access to computers and the Internet. Both have become important to teaching and to learning. Access to the Internet means access to information and the ability to communicate with others. As technology usage becomes more integral as the main access to information at school, at home, and in the workplace, the need to ensure that everyone has this access becomes even more critical than it already is. The investigator believes that the most important place to guarantee equal access to technology is in schools. Over the last decade, more emphasis has been placed on increasing technology and technology use in schools. President Clinton, in his Call to Actionfor American Education in the 21st Century, stated, “Every 8-year-old must be able to read, every 12- year-old must be able to log onto the Internet, every 18-year-old must be able to go to college, and all adults must be able to keep on learning” (January, 1997, p. 1). Part of his Call to Action was to “connect every classroom and library in America to the Internet by 2000” (p. 1). Access to technology, specifically to the Internet, and the ability to effectively use technology has become increasingly important to insure participation in the global world. ‘Technology is not only a product of given culture; it also shapes the culture that created it” (Mehlinger, 1995, p. 400). In schools, this means that students have access to information that once was under the control ofteachers, and it enables learners to gain control of their own learning (Mehlinger, p. 402). Students begin to shape their learning around issues, topics, and subjects that come from real life and outside of textbook learning. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  20. 20. 6 It is in the best interest of both today’s young people and the nation as a whole that all students have an opportunity to master the elements of technology they will need to have a productive future. Further, it is also clear that technology should be one of the principal tools by which students learn to manage the ever-increasing base of knowledge they will need to achieve success”. (Milone & Salpeter, 1996, p. 39) ‘Technology can take a school in the poorest of communities and allow its students this wealth of learning opportunity that will give them the same intellectual riches that students in the richest school districts have. It can permit students living in the smallest of rural communities, whose one-room schoolhouse may sit in the middle of a cornfield, to have the learning opportunities and resources of students whose school sits next to the New York City Public Library or the Library of Congress” (Riley, 1995, p. 1). Riley, who was Sectary of Education for the Clinton administration, went on to say that technology in schools can “help close the fault lines in our society” (p. 1). In America, 47.7 million children attend public school (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES] 2003, p. 1). The challenge is how public schools can become the foundation in a democratic society that provides equal educational access for children to participate in America’s social, educative, economic, and political systems. In February 1934, Congress passed the Communications Act of 1934. This act established the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the concept of Universal Service which was designed to provide reduced rates for telephone service to all Americans. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 restructured that law to include schools, libraries, rural customers, and health care providers. The implementation of the Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  21. 21. 7 education rate, better known as the E-Rate, was given to the Federal Communications Commission to implement. Through grants and federal funding, the E-Rate program has helped connect one million public school classrooms to modem telecommunications networks (Kennard, 2000, p. 2). A report on E-Rate and the Digital Divide from the U.S. Department of Education demonstrated that schools have taken the most advantage of the E-Rate program. The number of public schools connected to the Internet has increased from 35% in 1994 to 99% in 2002, according to a survey by the NCES (2003, p. 18). Cooper (2000) indicated that 95% of the nation’s public schools were connected to the Internet (p. A02). In 1999, President Clinton directed his cabinet members to take specific steps to close a gap between the haves with access and the have-nots with little or none. The Digital Divide refers to those groups of individuals who have no or limited access to computers and to the Internet compared to those who have full access. Those who do not have full access are typically low-income, are disproportionately minorities, and/or live in rural areas. Research indicates that the Digital Divide has developed along demographic lines of race, gender, educational level, and income (NCES, 2003). The wiring of schools was seen as the greatest way to bridge the Digital Divide (Cooper, 2000). Clinton (2000), in remarks regarding the closing of this gap, stated that, “when we talk about bridging the digital divide, we mean that everybody ought to have access to a computer; everybody ought to have access to the Internet; everybody ought to know how to use it, and then we ought to make it possible for people to maximum use of it” (p. 1). Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  22. 22. 8 Statement o f the Problem With the nation and the world involved in global communication, the Digital Divide challenges the economics and civil rights ofthe next generation. One of the most significant aspects of the effort to bridge the Digital Divide is the role schools can play and have played in this process. Billons of dollars have been spent purchasing computers and related equipment and in connecting schools to the Internet. According to Carvin (2000) and Gladieux & Swail (1990), several empirical studies have been conducted analyzing the gap between the technology haves and the have-nots and growing programs intended to address this issue. There is little research that addresses the potential for schools to narrow the Digital Divide and whether students, with access to technology and to the Internet, have basic computer literacy skills to utilize the information available from these tools. Determining whether schools with Internet access increase students’ and teachers’ ability to use technology and the Internet effectively and to raise student achievement is a concern of parents, teachers, administrators, and researchers (Milone & Salpeter, 1996). The Federal Communication Commission, Department of Commence, and the U.S. Department of Education have worked jointly to improve the use of technology in schools. Limited data, either quantitative or qualitative, exist on the effect that schools, with computers and connected to the Internet, have on student access to technology. The capabilities of schools to tackle this problem would depend on the technology (e.g., computers, servers), Internet connection (e.g., speed, bandwidth), student/computer ratio, and the level of expertise of teachers and support staffto use technology in teaching and Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  23. 23. 9 learning (Gladieux & Swail, 1999). Few studies have been completed on the effect a highly technological school has on bridging the Digital Divide. Traditionally, researchers have looked at the potential students have through the proper use of technology and how it has and can change teaching and learning (Gooden, 1996; Kallick & Wilson, 2001). The focus has been on tying computer use with higher understanding and school achievement. Additionally, there is a need to examine who fully participates in the use technology and opportunities created by technological changes. The investigator examined who participates in the use of technology, where this use occurs (school, community centers, and/or home), the degree to which a school might be able to facilitate bridging the Digital Divide, and if it is simply enough to provide a technologically rich school setting. Study Purpose The goal of the investigator the investigator in undertaking this quantitative and qualitative descriptive study was to document and to analyze student access to technology and to the Internet within one school; the nature oftheir use oftechnology in school; and the technological skills in use by these students. The investigator observed student access to technology and compared it to national statistics about the Digital Divide to determine if a highly technological school does, in fact, bridge the divide for all students. The study was conducted at one highly technological K - 8 Title 1 school with a diverse student population. The purpose of this quantitative and qualitative descriptive study was to examine and to explore student access to and use of technology and the role schools can play in bridging the Digital Divide. The investigator collected part of the data for this research Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  24. 24. 10 from a student survey and interviews with students, staff, parents, and key players in developing this diverse highly technological school. An analysis of documents (primary sources) and qualitative methods such as content analysis and constant comparative method were implemented to explore and to understand the effects, in context of a school setting, of the meaning of the Digital Divide. The study benefited from the theoretical base of primary statistics on the Digital Divide to guide data collection and analysis. Research Questions The following questions guided the evaluation of the data: 1. Which students at this school use computers and the Internet? 2. Where do the students use computers and the Internet? 3. In what kind of computer activities do these students engage? 4. Is computer use by students related to demographic characteristics such as race/ethnicity, gender or other factors? Significance of the Study The potential for schools to bridge the Digital Divide effectively is a dynamic approach to real educational reform. Understanding who has access in a highly technological school and their level of accessibility will help improve funding, programs, and the allocation of Internet services to schools and help public education give an advantage to all students. The Digital Divide is an issue of access and accessibility. This study contributes to the understanding of school-based equity with respect to access to technology and technological skills. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  25. 25. 11 Assumptions This research on the Digital Divide provides information that can be used to compare other schools to the one studied as they pertain to the Digital Divide across the nation. The investigator made the following assumptions that affected the design of the study and procedures: 1. The impact of technology and Internet access is critical to student ability to ascertain information, communication, and participate fully in the economic and civic life of the 21st Century society. 2. Access and accessibility in schools will reflect the paradigm of educational reform in teaching and learning and will be a factor in bridging the Digital Divide. 3. Success of schools in helping to bridge the Digital Divide will improve the practices, strategies, and possible funding patterns ofpublic schools. Limitations The potential for schools to play an active part in bridging the Digital Divide was determined by through a descriptive study of one highly technological school. The school has its own LAN and was connected to the WAN of the school district. This school, with 1200 students with 1300 networked computers, is not typical of most public schools in the United States. Other highly technological schools are not included in this study. The study is based on comparing and analyzing national statistics to data collected at one urban public school. The school is part of an urban school district and all socio-economic levels are represented in the school population; however, a majority of the students were from minority groups. The investigator did not have the ability to ascertain the income level of the students, which research shows is an important factor in technological access. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  26. 26. 12 Therefore, generalizations to other schools and students cannot necessarily be made from the findings of this study. Definition of Terms Digital Divide. The team used to refer to the gap between those who have access and accessibility to technological tools (computers and the Internet) and those who do not have access and accessibility to technological tools. The following terms are related: Digital Equity and Digital Apartheid. High technological school. Schools that have technology and Internet access for all students. Internet. Networked systems that permit sharing of information and communication though worldwide networked computers. Technology literacy. Knowledge and/or skills needed to utilize computer applications, systems, and the Internet. Access. To gain use of computers and the Internet. Accessibility. Knowledge and/or skills needed to utilize computer applications and systems to obtain information, commonly called technology literacy. Telecommunications. The transmission, between or among points specified by the user, of information without change in the form or content. Universal Service. A federal government system designed to make local telephone service available to all Americans at reasonable rate. E-Rate. Short for education rate, E-Rate provides discounts for schools, libraries, health care providers, and rural areas to buy telecommunications services. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  27. 27. 13 Organization o f the Dissertation The dissertation is organized into five chapters. These chapters are briefly summarized below: Chapter 1 provides an introduction, statement of problem, purpose, research objectives, significance of the study, assumption of the study, limitations of the study, definition of terms, and organization of the dissertation. Chapter 2 is a review of literature related to the Digital Divide, universal access, access and accessibility, and provides a description of the school used in this study. Chapter 3 describes the research design and methodology of the study. (Primary sources, student survey, interviews, observation, etc.) Chapter 4 presents the findings from the data analysis of the survey, interviews observation, and primary sources. Chapter 5 includes the summary and findings of the study, along with conclusions and recommendations. Summary The investigator analyzed the national research data in which the Digital Divide was addressed and compared those characteristics to those at one high technological school group that had 1200 students with 1300 networked computers and a plethora of multifaceted software applications. The study was done to ascertain whether these students had more access and skills then those students addressed in national studies. The investigator surveyed students; observed them in school; and interviewed them and their parents, teachers, and administers to compare student access and accessibility to national data on the Digital Divide. The investigator placed an anonymous quantitative Internet Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  28. 28. Student Technology Survey on the school’s LAN and sixth, seventh, and eighth graders completed it. The investigator performed classroom observations to substantiate data provided from the survey. Students, parents, teachers, principals, and technology coordinators were interviewed to further document student use of technology and the Internet in learning. The information gathered from the interviews was used to guide the questions for student focus groups where students shared and demonstrated their use of technology and the Internet. Documents of hardware and software relative to student- computer ratio and student demographics were catalogued, observed, and analyzed. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  29. 29. 15 Chapter 2 Review of the Literature Introduction The origin of the term Digital Divide is somewhat uncertain. The term itself refers to the discrepancy between those who have access to information technology and the Internet and those who do not. From 1995 to early 1996 the term Digital Divide was being used by such persons as Larry Irving, who believed that he borrowed it from Jonathan Webber and Amy Harmon when they worked for the Los Angeles Times, as well as Bonnie Bracey. President Bill Clinton, Vice President A1 Gore, Bob Kahn, and the National Information Infrastructure [Nil] Advisory Commission used the term when looking at standards to develop infrastructure within the technology plans. Robert Reich used it frequently in speeches and reports when he was Secretary of the United States Department of Labor (Benton Foundation, 2001). Since the Telecommunications Act in 1934 (1934 Act) the nation has recognized the need to assure that information is accessible to the masses regardless of socioeconomic status or location. The Telecommunications Act of 1934 was the foundation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and addressed universal service as a means to provide affordable telephone service to all Americans. This national policy defined a system by which basic telephone service was made available at low cost to the poorest households (Bowe, 1993). The Act was the beginning of the communication infrastructure of America that now connects individuals, corporations, schools, and government to each other and the world. With the nation and the world involved in global Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  30. 30. 16 communication though Internet technology, the concept of accessibility takes on greater importance in American homes and classrooms. The E-Rate as a Response to the Digital Divide in U.S. Public Schools In 1996 the new Telecommunications Act (1996 Act) was the first major revision of the 1934 Act and added schools, libraries, and health care providers to the policy of affordable universal service. Within this Act, Congress charged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and states to establish a system that assured that all Americans, regardless of income and location, gain access to telecommunications and information services. The notion of universal service was modified to assure that programs were established to address rural, insular, and high-cost areas at rates that would be comparable to those rates in urban areas. The expression, E-Rate, became the term used to refer to the Universal Service Programs that the FCC defined and administers to fund reasonable rates for schools, rural areas, and health care providers. These funds come from communication companies that the FCC regulates and accumulates. The E-Rate was the promise of the government to address the growing Digital Divide in the country. As part of this promise, “all public and non-profit elementary and secondary school classrooms, health care providers, and libraries” were to be provided with access to advanced telecommunications services (NCES, 1999). The E-Rate program, now in its 11th year, has provided funds to schools and libraries all over the nation to be wired to the Internet. By 2002, 99% of all public schools and 88% of all classrooms were connected to the Internet (NCES, 2003). E-Rate has made a critical difference in the way schools and libraries can deliver educational resources and teaching and learning. For example, now students and teachers may take Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  31. 31. 17 classes online, use the Internet to conduct research and investigate issues, and communicate using e-mail. Up-to-date information is available to urban and rural areas. The Education and Libraries Networks Coalition ([EdLiNC] 2003) reported five significant findings following its survey of the impact of the E-Rate legislation: 1. E-rate is an important tool for economic empowerment in underserved communities; 2. E-rate is beginning to bring new learning opportunities to special education students; 3. E-rate is transforming education in rural America; 4. E-rate technology is helping schools improve student achievement and comply with No Child Left Behind; and 5. Schools and libraries were devoting significant resources and exercising great care in completing e-rate applications, (p. 7) “Probably the single factor driving the expanding importance of access to information and the use of technology is the Internet” (U.S. Department of Education, September, 2000). The report, The E-Rate and the Digital Divide, states that “the most important factors in reducing the digital divide is the growing availability of entry points for low-income person at schools...” (p. 3). The E-Rate provides low-rate access to the Internet with reductions ranging from 20% to 90% to schools, libraries, and community centers. The E-Rate has helped schools develop and expand their infrastructure to a point that 99% of schools in the United States have access to the Internet compared to 35% in 1994. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  32. 32. 18 The NCES conducted the most recent study of the E-Rate program and found that schools have been the largest beneficiary of the E-rate where 99% of the schools were connected to the Internet and 88% had some classroom connection. Carvin (2000) though The Benton Foundation supported a study of four major urban city school districts (Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee) and found the following four common issues: 1. E-Rate discounts allowed the districts to achieve faster deployment of their computer networks and Internet access; 2. The funds allowed the districts to leverage other funds for technology; 3. Coordination between technology and instructional administrators was increased; and 4. Professional development for teachers is critical for the increased availability of modem technology, (p. 29) Other researchers have reported that nationally, people support the E-Rate and what it brings to schools (E-Rate and the Digital Divide, 2000, p. 26). Accesses to technology and the Internet have become an issue of access to social, economic, and educational resources. The E-rate is the largest and latest commitment to educational equity in a generation (Carvin, 2000). Today, access to technology and to the Internet has become vital to educational, occupational, and economic opportunities. Technology and the Internet have made it possible to communicate with hundreds of individuals by sending one e-mail. Shopping, job hunting, gathering research, and checking on the stock market with a click of a button can easily occur. More and more, as America is being transformed into a technologically Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  33. 33. 19 driven nation, with every institution being impacted by the Internet, the American population is separating into groups of persons who have access to technology and to the Internet and into groups of persons who do not have access to technology and to the Internet. Closer Look at the Digital Divide The Digital Divide gap goes beyond a choice made by an individual or household; it reflects deeper problems that relate to access to infrastructures in education and business and to economic opportunities (Krieg, 1995, p. 2). In America and at a global level, economic and personal well-being have become more dependent on the ability to access, accumulate, and assimilate information. Race and income play a major role in the Digital Divide and in access to technology (Hoffman & Novak, 1998; Tapscott, 1998). In the Hoffman & Novak (1998) report, 73% of the White students reported owning a computer at home whereas only 32% of African American students reported owning a computer at home. White students who lacked computers at home reported they were more likely to gain access to the Internet at the home of friends, the library, or a community center than were African American students who lacked computers at home. When Internet access was viewed by income, only 31% of children in low-income families (households earning less than $20,000 a year) had access to a home computer compared to 89% of children in high- income families (households earning more than $75,000 a year); (NCES, 2003, p. 12); (see Figure 1.) Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  34. 34. 20 100 90 80 70 S> 60 S £ 50 fc! S. 40 30 20 10 0 Figure 1. Access to the Internet at Home by Income (NCES, October, 2003). ‘The main reason families buy computers and connect to the Internet at home is to further education, while low-income families without home computers count on schools to level the playing field” (Natt, 2000, p. 1). The how, the where, and the who in terms of access to technology will determine the economic, social, and educational future of each individual and our nation. ‘The lack of exposure to technology, at home and in the classroom dooms millions of American youths to low-paid, insecure jobs at the margins of our economy” (Bolt & Crawford, 2000). Falling Through the Net Reports In the report, Falling through the Net (1995), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration [NTIA] developed a profile of universal service in America. This report looked beyond telephone penetration to computers and modems in view of the persons who are not connected to the National Information Infrastructure (Nil). Generally, in this 1995 report, the following Information have-nots were identified: 89.3 Under $20,000 $20,000 - $35,000 - $50,000 - $75,000 or more $34,000 $49,000 $74,499 R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  35. 35. 21 In essence, information “have-nots” are disproportionately found in rural and central cities areas. Though most persons recognize that poor people as a group have difficulties in connecting to the Nil, less well known is the fact that the lowest telephone penetration exists in central cities. Concerning personal- computer penetration and the incidence of modems when computers are present in a household, however, no situation compares with the plight of the rural poor. By race, Native Americans in rural areas proportionately possess the fewest telephones, followed by rural Hispanics and rural African Americans. Black households in central cities and particularly in rural areas have the lowest percentages of home computers, with central city Hispanics also ranked very low. On the basis of age, the single most seriously disadvantaged group consisted of the youngest householders (under 25 years), particularly in rural areas. (NTIA, 1995, p. 2) Essentially, the less education people have, the lower the penetration of telephones, computers, and computer-household modems that appears to be present (NTIA, 1995). After compiling survey data and releasing this report, NTIA requested that federal, state, and local policy makers collaborate and gather more specific information regarding the information have-nots. In 1998, the government released a follow-up report: Falling through the Net II: New Data on the Digital Divide. This report relied on a collaborative effort between the NTIA and the U.S. Census Bureau to obtain information regarding PC/Modem ownership (NTIA, 1998). The following data in figure 2 is descriptive of persons who have access in America. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  36. 36. 22 The 1997 data demonstrate that, as a nation, Americans have increasingly embraced the Information Age through electronic access in their homes. The nation-wide penetration rates were 93.8% for telephones, 36.6% for PCs, 26.3% for modems, and 18.6% for online access. Despite this significant growth, the Digital Divide between certain groups of Americans has increased between 1994 and 1997 so that there is now an even greater disparity in penetration levels among some groups. There is a widening gap, for example, between those at upper and lower income levels. Additionally, even though all racial groups now own more computers than they did in 1994, Blacks and Hispanics how lag even further behind Whites in their levels of PC ownership and online access. too 90 80 70 <D S' 60 2 S 50 y ID 40o_ 30 20 10 0 Figure 2. Electronic Access Penetration Rates in US Households (NTIA, 1998). The Federal Communications Commission reported (FCC, 2000) that high-speed lines connecting homes and small businesses to the Internet increased from 2.8 million in 1999 to 4.5 million by June, 2000. The 1995 NTIA report showed that those of low socioeconomic status in rural areas and in the central cities had disproportionately fewer telephones and therefore less -93r8- 36.6 _____________ 26.3 I 18.6 Telephone PC Modem High Speed Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  37. 37. 23 ability to connect to the information infrastructure. Native Americans in rural areas possessed the fewest telephones followed by Hispanics and African Americans in rural areas. African Americans in the central cities had the lowest number of home computers. Households in central cities had the lowest telephone and computer penetration. Falling through the Net: Digital Inclusion, included the concern that the United States must ensure that all Americans have the information tools and skills that are critical to their participation in the digital economy (NTIA, 2000). At the center of the Telecommunications Act is the goal of universal service, the concept that all Americans should have access to affordable telephone service. Telephone penetration became the measurement of access to telecommunications because it was the most commonly used measure of the nation’s success in achieving universal service (Falling Through the Net, July 1995). The NTIA recognized the limitations of using their telephone service databases when, “Individuals’ economic and social well-being increasingly depends on their ability to access, accumulate, and assimilate information” (p. 5). In July 1999, President Bill Clinton responded to an updated interim report from the U.S. Commerce Department's NTIA concerning a once-overlooked aspect of the Information Age. Summarizing the NTIA's principal conclusions, President Clinton warned that, “there is a growing digital divide between those who have access to the digital economy and those who don't, and that divide exists along the lines of education, income, region and race” (Clinton cited in Phi Delta Kappan 1999, p. 90). As this statement indicates, the core dynamic of the Digital Divide in American society at large lies in an ongoing transformation of the national economy through the deployment and Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  38. 38. 24 use of computer and telecommunications technologies, including the Internet. This structural change is of potentially vast benefit, but it brings with it enormous challenges as well. In a free market, the capital, labor, and technology competencies driving the post-industrial economy are located in the private sector, with corporate entities controlling both the bulk of these production factors and the leading edge in their further development. As a result, market forces are re-determining economic opportunity structures including, but not limited to, skill requirements of stratified labor markets. For those persons on the wrong side of the Digital Divide (i.e., members of economically and socially disadvantaged groups), impoverishment yields low access to information technology and negligible participation in the digital economy. Coming at and through a period of inordinately rapid economic growth and development, such exclusion widens and deepens existing economic inequality. A little more than a year after then-President Clinton issued his statement; the NTIA issued its most comprehensive analysis of the Digital Divide, its socio-economic fault-lines, causal mechanics, and prospective consequences under the title of Falling through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide, (NTIA, 2000). With the deepening penetration of technologies into the national economy, the NTIA asserted, the problem of grossly unequal access to this network and the skills needed to work in a digital environment, class cleavages (strongly associated with racial/ethnic minority status) had mounted, would continue to mount, and would become increasingly intractable. The Digital Divide, the NTIA reported, now threatened to: Establish an impenetrable barrier not only to quality jobs, but also to educational opportunities and access to information that all Americans need to be successful. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  39. 39. 25 The U.S. can avert a potentially devastating new social inequality between the digitally literate 'haves' and 'have-nots' if the nation's skills, resources, and commitment are mobilized quickly”, (p. iv) The inclusion of educational opportunities in the NTIA's summary assessment was associated with the development of advanced vocational skill requirements of the digital workplace and the unequal technology access in the nation’s educational system. In fact, the potential for the emergence of a Digital Divide in American society was first observed and documented in educational research investigating the accelerating penetration of digital learning technologies into American public schools. As early as 1987, Becker and Sterling published a study constructed on broadly-based survey data under the title of “Equity in School Computer Use: National Data and Neglected Considerations.” They found the existence of large disparities in personal computers per student among American public schools and school districts, with presumptively poorer districts having proportionately greater racial/ethnic minority enrollments having much higher (that is, worse) ratios than their predominantly White middle- and upper-class counterparts. As first computers and then the Internet became commonplace in American schools between the mid-1980s and the present, these initial conclusions about the emergence of a technological equity problem in American elementary and secondary schools were updated and reaffirmed. As Becker and Ravitz (1998) wrote in their introduction to a study of the Digital Divide in American public schools: In education, innovations designed to improve students’ accomplishments often have the unintended consequence of increasing inequality by improving the Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  40. 40. 26 accomplishments of more advantaged students without helping, or even doing harm, to disadvantaged students, (p. 1) The introduction of computer/telecommunications technology into the nation's school systems and its ongoing integration into the learning process could potentially help to level the playing field between privileged and disadvantaged learners, and, by extension, assist in equalizing class, race, and other differentials in post-secondary education and the labor market. As it now stands, the mega-trend, innovation of technology in American education, is not helping students who are already disadvantaged. As the NTIA's report Falling through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide (2000) suggested, because the emergence and growth of the Digital Divide took place so rapidly, formal research on the equity dimension of technology access is only in its initial stages. Government policy and academic social science researchers are still in the process of defining the Digital Divide at large, and this is also true within the particular domain of public education. This literature review followed a topical approach to a field that is still in the process of formation. The investigator delineated the main findings of recent investigations into the Digital Divide, as they currently exist in American public schools. Discussion of individual studies is restricted to a handful of recently published representative works in a separate section of the survey. This approach reflected the fact that our basic knowledge of what the Digital Divide is in public education actually is exceedingly limited, yet rapidly growing even as the underlying phenomena undergo concurrent transformation. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  41. 41. 27 The Growth o f Technology in U.S. Public Education The penetration of technology into American public education has proceeded at an extraordinary pace. In terms of the now standard measure of personal computers (PCs) per elementary and/or secondary students attending public schools, according to Ely (1996), the ratio increased from one PC per 125 students in 1983 to one PC per 12 students in 1995 (p. 3). Updates to Ely's estimates vary considerably and are subject to constant revision themselves. In 1999, for example, Phi Delta Kappan indicated that there was one computer for every six public school students in the United States {Phi Delta Kappan, 1999, p. 90). At the same time, using alternative statistical sources, Scheffler and Logan (1999) reported, “Presently, schools have a ratio of about 1 computer for every 10 students” and then added, “Nearly all districts have at least one multimedia-capable computer” (p. 306). It is clear that American society is witnessing a trend that is universal in its scope, although by no means even in its degree; a trend that continues to advance at an extraordinarily rapid pace. Whereas the computer itself has gone from being a novelty within American education during the 1980s to being a standard feature of schools across the nation in an impressively short time span, the growth of digital telecommunication information networks accessible through PCs has been even more astounding. Since the advent of the hypertext World Wide Web, or Internet, in the early 1990s, the adoption/diffusion rate(s) within public schools has been unprecedented. Between 1994 and 1998, Yoder (2001) reported that the percentage of U.S. classrooms with Internet access rose from 3% to 51% (p. 13). Indeed, according to the NCES (2003), by 2002, a lull 92% of such classrooms were online. By 2002, according to the United States Department of Education, 81% of Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  42. 42. 28 all U.S. public school students in grades 1 through 12 used the Internet at school (NCES, 2003, p. 12). Increasingly, many public school students enjoy the benefits of home ownership or use of personal computers. Although comparable longitudinal data for public school students in home access to PCs does not exist, the Department of Education reported that by 2002, 65% of public school students in grades 1 through 12 had a personal computer in their households (NCES, 2003, p. 12). Internet penetration into the homes of this same populace is substantial, though not nearly as high. According to the same report, in 2002, 45% of all U.S. public school students had online access within their households (NCES, 2003, p. 16). Conducted at different times through different methodologies and with the use of different samples, and invariably behind the curve of actual growth rates, these statistics nonetheless clearly show that most American public school students currently enjoy some in-school access to powerful learning technologies. From this finding, it would appear that most elementary and secondary learners in the United States today have some opportunity to develop the basic skills that they will need to succeed in college and, beyond that, in a post-industrial, information age society. But as discussed in detail in the next section of this review, in terms of such basic measures as the computer/student ratio, tremendous variability still exists across schools and school districts. Indeed, in some cases, these gaps have widened as a result of rapid influxes of technology in some schools and actual declines of technology in others. In their survey of Florida's elementary, middle, and secondary public schools, Barron and associates (Barron, Hogarty, Kromrey, & Lenkway, 1999) reported that the vast majority of schools had experienced very rapid increases in both classroom computers and in student computer Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  43. 43. 29 usage between 1993 and 1996. Surprisingly, though, 5% of the schools in the Barron et al.’s sample said that both their total number of computers and of student computer usage actually declined during that same three-year time frame (Barron et al., p. 101). The Main Fault-Lines of the Digital Divide One of the most salient and meaningful fault-lines on the Digital Divide occurred along the dimension of educational attainment (NTIA, 2000). Thus, the NTIA reported that Americans who had graduated college were eight times more likely to own a computer than those persons who did not have a college degree, and that 61.6% of college graduates reported frequent Internet use as compared to only 6.6% of persons who did not have a college degree (NTIA, 2000). Clearly, personal educational attainment is a significant differential of the Digital Divide at large. For elementary and secondary public school students, parental educational attainment is undoubtedly a significant correlate of their technology access within the home and within public schools as well. Nonetheless, for educational researchers, level of educational attainment is, quite obviously, not a direct operational variable. Rather, level of educational attainment relates to socioeconomic status reflected, for example, in student household income, and the very closely associated variable of racial/ethnic minority group membership. The Digital Divide in American public education is most appropriately construed in terms of long-standing resource disadvantages marked by class and race/ethnicity. It should be noted that today there is no difference in the rates of computers and the Internet between boys and girls. The use rate ofboys was higher during the 1990s, but in today’s world that higher rate has disappeared (Figure 3, NCES, 2003). Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  44. 44. 30 100 90 80 70 Male Female Figure 3: Access to the Internet by Gender (NCES, October, 2003). As noted earlier, Becker and Sterling (1987) published a landmark study of the equity dimension to computers in American elementary and secondary schools. From an analysis encompassing a stratified sample of 2,331 public and non-public schools, they found, among other things, that, “Black elementary school students in 1985 were less likely to attend schools with computers and blacks of all ages attend schools with fewer computer-using teachers than do whites. Socioeconomic status and achievement differences between schools account for the other differences in access and use of computers by students” (p. 310). Minority group students are more likely to come from households with incomes and wealth below the national average, to live in poor communities (most notably in inner city neighborhoods), and to attend high poverty schools in districts that have inadequate local tax bases to support public education (Orfield, Schely, Glass, & Reardon, 1994). Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  45. 45. 31 Some evidence exists that being in a racial minority group is related with digital technology access of public students independent of socioeconomic status. For example, McKissack (1998) stated that, among U.S. households with total incomes of less than $40,000 a year, Whites are six times more likely than African Americans to have used the World Wide Web in the last week and twice as likely to own a personal computer than African Americans (p. 20). Non-white status appears to compound technology access disadvantages of students from low-income households/school districts. In 1992, Becker estimated that poor school districts with a majority African American student enrollment had 10 to 12% fewer computers than other poor school districts. Using Chapter 1 (income eligibility for federal educational subsidies) status as a surrogate for student socioeconomic status, Hayes (1995) reported that, despite the availability and use of Chapter 1 funds for technology purchases, schools with the lowest percentage of Chapter 1 students had the best student-to-computer ratios (p. 52). Hayes further reported that student enrollment of these digitally enriched schools was almost or all White. A more recent study by Gladieux and Swail (1999) showed that the lowest ratio of computers to students was in schools and school districts that had the largest proportions of minority group and poverty household students. Other researchers have reported findings that were not consistent with the previous reports of a relationship between student socioeconomic status and lower access to digital technology in public schools. In a statistical survey of 525 Missouri public school districts, Alspaugh (1999) found “no consistent relationship between financial resources of the districts and the number of students per computer” (p. 143). Alspaugh then added an interpretation that “the schools with the smallest number of students per Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  46. 46. 32 computer are allocating a larger proportion of their financial resources to computing technology” (p. 143). But Alspaugh’s research results were based on imputed school district financial ability (annual district expenditures per student) rather than on student household income or neighborhood socioeconomic status. Similarly, Barron et al. (1999) reported in their study that, “there were no strong relationships found between the use of computers in the school and the percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch” (p. 101). This unexpected finding appears to be an artifact of the study design rather than a direct contradiction of a hypothesized relationship between student socioeconomic status and the students’ school’s digital resources. The bulk of the evidence supports a strong association between poverty (student, community, and school district) and low computer student ratios in public elementary, middle, and secondary schools. With the enhancement of the personal computer through the advent of the Internet, the poverty factor is again evident. Hayes and Bybee (1995) observed, “generally speaking, schools with poor student-per-computer ratios have limited access to other modem learning technologies, such as telecommunications, cable in the classroom and multimedia” (p. 48). In support of this finding, the NCES, (2003) reported that 85% of students from high-income households reported using the Internet at school, as compared to 83% of their peers from middle-income families and 75% of students from low-income families (see Figure 4). Students who attend school in low-income and minority areas have less access to the Internet. These findings demonstrated the differences in access of computers to students who are from low-income households at schools were Internet connectivity has been established. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  47. 47. 33 86 84 82 80 <u Cl(a % 78 uL - Q) 76 74 72 70 Figure 4: Students Who Use the Internet at School by Income (NCES, 2003). Among public school students, class is an even more powerful predictor of computer and Internet accessibility at home. Kafai and Sutton state that the available evidence and their own study results strongly demonstrate that “families at the lower socio-economic end (have) a much greater likelihood of not having a computer at home” (Kafai & Sutton 1999, p. 355). According to the United States Department of Education, 91% of public school students in grades 1 through 12 from high-income families have a computer at home, whereas 76% of their peers from middle-income families and only 46% of students from low-income families have access to a personal computer at home (NCES, 2003). The corresponding household-income differentials for at-home Internet use are even more pronounced within the same population: 75% of students from high- income families are online at home, compared to 63% of middle-income, and just 37% of low-income students (Figure 5, NCES, 2003). High Income Families Middle Income Families Low Income Families Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  48. 48. 34 80 70 60 <u 50 Ui B g 40 20 10 0 Figure 5: Students in Public Schools (1-12) with Internet Access at Home by income (NCES, 2003). In terms of in-school PC usage and student-PC ratios, students who are members of traditionally disadvantaged minority groups, especially African-Americans and Hispanics, demonstrate only a slight disadvantage in usage when the influence of economic variables is controlled. For example, among White students in public schools, 83% are more likely to report frequent (at least once a week) use of the Internet at school, compared to 70% for African-American students and 71% for Hispanic students. The differentials on this count are not large (Figure 6, (NTIA, 2000). When race and income are considered together, a more sharply etched portrait of unequal access along minority group status lines appears (see Figure 6). Internet usage is substantially below average in schools with a high percentage of Black students and/or students receiving free/reduced-cost lunches under Title 1 funding programs in public elementary and secondary schools (Leigh, 1999). Leigh goes on to say: ■75- Total All Students High Income Families Middle Income Low Income Families Families Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  49. 49. 35 White African-American Hispanic Figure 6: Students Who Use the Internet Once a Week at School by Race (NCES, 2000). The results of this study strongly suggest that access to educational technologies is unequally distributed among schools of differing racial or socio-economic makeup. Schools with predominantly White students are more likely to have Internet access than schools with large number of students of other ethnic backgrounds. Along the same lines, students of high socio-economic status [SES] are more likely to have Internet access at their schools than students of low socio­ economic status, (pp. 122-123) Although difficult to disaggregate the effects of SES and racial/ethnic minority group status, students who belong to traditionally disadvantaged groups—African- Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans—do appear to be substantially disadvantaged in terms of at-school access to technologies. Race is a powerful discriminator of PC home ownership/access availability among U.S. public school students. In 1998, a full 70% of all White public school students reported having a computer in their households. By contrast, in that same year, Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  50. 50. 36 only 28% of all African-American students and 28% of all Hispanic public school students had a personal computer in their homes (NCES, 2000, p. 71). In terms of Internet access at home among public school students, a parallel racial divide is evident. In 1998, 32.2% of White public school students, but only 8.4% of their African-American peers and 8.0% of their Hispanics peers were had Internet access at home (NCES, p. 161). Consistent with the findings of previous studies, access to the Internet at home by race increased among all ethnic groups but at a disparate rate. In 2001, 66.7% of White public school students and 64.6% of Asian public school students reported using the Internet at home while 45.3% of African American and 37.2% Hispanics reported being online at home. (NCES) These results can be seen in Figure 7. 100 90 80 White Black Hispanic Asian Figure 7: Access to the Internet at Home by Race (NCES, October, 2003). In addition to SES and race/ethnicity, some evidence exists of a significant gap along geographic setting lines. The distinction here is between relatively privileged Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  51. 51. 37 suburban and high-income urban school districts, on the one hand, and both rural and low-income inner city neighborhoods on the other. Overlap exists between these geographic lines and socioeconomic status/race-ethnicity, with inner city ghettoes being marked by a high degree of poverty and by high concentrations of disadvantaged racial/ethnic minority group members. Costs, especially to provide telephone lines into classrooms to access the Internet and to pay Internet service providers (ISPs), substantially limit student in-school (and at-home) access to the World Wide Web (Johnson, 1995, p. 2). Rural communities tend to have below-mean household incomes independent of racial/ethnic composition. But it is in terms of telecommunications access that students in rural public schools experience the sharpest inequalities. As several researchers have observed (Hayes, 1995, p. 51; Johnson, 1995, p. 2), some rural communities do not have access to a local ISP because Internet access entails long­ distance access and is, therefore, is cost-prohibitive (Gunderson & Anderson, 1999). In terms of at-home Internet access, the NTIA study reported that urban households with annual incomes in excess of $75,000 were 20 times more likely to have Internet access at home than were those rural households at the lowest income levels (NTIA, 2000). There is one further dimension to the Digital Divide in American public schools that has not been addressed in large scale surveys or in case studies, but was recognized by Becker and colleagues as early as the late 1980s. Supplementing existing databases with their own mail questionnaire research, Becker and Sterling found much higher levels of computer usage among high-ability students assigned to college-bound tracks than among low-ability students assigned to vocational tracks within the same schools. They reported that in addition to greater frequency and total time of computer usage, high- Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  52. 52. 38 ability students were exposed to a much wider array of computer uses, whereas low- ability students were constrained to drill and practice exercises (Becker & Sterling, 1987). Becker and Sterling also reported that teachers of high-ability student classes were substantially more likely to own their own personal computers than were teachers of low- ability class students. This same disparity was found by Becker (1984) and then again investigated in 1998 by Becker and Ravitz. In addition to class, race, and community geographic setting, which differentiate largely on a school district-by-school district basis as well as a school-to-school basis, within any given school we may find another dimension of the public education Digital Divide along the lines of demonstrated/perceived student ability. The Digital Divide in American Public Schools Broad statistical data suggest quantitative disparities in the access of public school students to digital technology within school and at home along the lines of class, race, community geographic setting, and student ability. But there are qualitative aspects to these same phenomena, for though two schools may have identical student-to-computer ratios and a coequal percentage of classrooms wired to the Internet, this does not necessarily mean that there is digital parity between them. Depth of digital experience in the classroom is as important a dimension of the Digital Divide as the width of the gaps delineated previously in this chapter. Blanchard (1999) remarked that: Sophisticated technology demands not only a high level of knowledge from its users, but also a concomitant degree of familiarity and comfort. Students must have exposure to the workings of the computer and develop ease with various hardware and software to acquire a high degree of competence and skill. Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  53. 53. 39 Merely occasional usage and/or usage confined to comparatively simple tasks (e.g., keyboarding, surfing the Web) do not immerse students in digital technology, (p. 2) According to proponents of computer-assisted instruction, the process of exploiting digital technology for educational purposes tends to unfold in stages. As Johnson (1997) explained, there are three sequential phases in educational computing: (a) familiarization, (b) acquisition, and (c) integration. Many public schools today are familiar with digital technology and have acquired some ofthe hardware and software necessary for its use, but they vary greatly in terms of the third stage, integration. On this subject, Moursund (2001) pointed the road ahead: The curriculum needs to be revised so that IT (information technology) is thoroughly integrated into the instruction and practice that is designed to produce fluency in writing, mathematics and science. That is, IT needs to be integrated into all curriculum areas at all grade levels as a routine and everyday component of curriculum, instruction and assessment, (p. 5) If students are to receive optimal exposure to technology and optimal benefit from its use as a learning medium, this deeper level of integration into the learning process must be implemented. The available evidence indicates that most American public schools have not achieved such deep integration of digital technology into the learning process. According to Scheffler and Logan (1999), “few teachers routinely use computers for instructional purposes” (p. 306). Along the same line, Leigh (1999) commented that public school teachers “are not using or integrating technology tools in the classroom, nor are they Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  54. 54. 40 incorporating related textual, graphical, or simulated learning materials available or simulated learning materials available on the Internet into their lessons and learning environments” (p. 124). Despite the extremely rapid penetration of digital technologies into American public schools over the last decade or so, the actual usage of such technologies often fall well short of what proponents of CAI have advocated (i.e., broadly integration into the regular classroom and the regular curriculum). According to Johnson (1997), editor of the journal Computers in the Schools, although the rising number of PCs in the schools is encouraging, two problems have limited the benefits that digital technology can purportedly yield for public school students: “(a) many existing computers are outdated and... (b) the preponderance of computing power is in laboratory settings and library media centers” (p. 2). Gunderson and Anderson (1999) addressed where computers are located in schools stating that, “We have observed that Internet access is often only available in most elementary schools in the principal's office and in secondary schools in the administrative offices and in a computer laboratory” (p. 7). Indeed, according to Fabry and Higgs (1997) about one-half of all computers in American public schools are located in centralized computer labs, in media centers, or in teachers’ offices where they are not accessible to students on a daily basis (Fabry & Higgs). In fact, "In many American schools, kids are still getting one-half hour of computer time in the computer lab per week" (Johnson, 1999, p. 1). Constraints upon the use of the Internet are especially severe. At one urban elementary school, the administration paid for 40 hours of Internet time per month; and those 40 hours of log-on time a month was shared by 500 students using one computer located in the school library (Gunderson & Anderson, 1999). Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  55. 55. 41 In terms of obsolete equipment, American schools have more up-to-date computers today than was the case in the early 1990s (Johnson, 1997). As reported in Phi Delta Kappan, only 22% of all computers in American public schools were less than 10 years old, but by 1998, that proportion had risen to over 50%, with 45% being less than five years old (Phi Delta Kappan, 1999). This appears to be a favorable development: Nonetheless, due to the short time span for significant upgrades in technology, many public school computers are now woefully out-dated. While the United States leads the world in the sheer number of instructional computers, halfof these computers are 8-bit machines, incapable of supporting CD-Rom sized databases, running complex software, or being networked. The computers in use are predominantly used for lower-order thinking skill activities such as drill or practice. (Fabry & Higgs, 1997, p. 381) Though comparisons are difficult to secure, data strongly suggest that schools serving higher proportions of disadvantaged students have a higher percentage of outdated computer equipment than those schools serving higher proportions of privileged (i.e., white, middle- or upper-class, college-bound) students. “For the most part, the higher the socio-economic status of the student body, the more likely the school will have higher levels and faster types of Internet access. Students of low socio-economic status are likely to have low-level, slow types of access that allow for transmission of text information only" (Leigh, 1999, p. 123). The obvious starting point in any discussion of the causes behind the current Digital Divide in American public schools is the availability of financial resources to fund the purchase/replacement of equipment and software to pay for various service and Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  56. 56. 42 maintenance, and for developing the technological skills of teachers and other staff members. Typically schools and school districts focus on the obvious initial costs associated with buying hardware (Fabry & Higgs, 1997). They tend to neglect consideration of the costs associated with software acquisition, maintenance and repair, training and technical staffing, replacement and system upgrades, and telecommunications connections (Fabry & Higgs). When all of these costs are totaled, the total burden of integrating computer/telecommunications media into American classrooms is enormous. Indeed, when considering the extent of this goal, one is led to conclude with the title of an editorial by Johnson, "A Computer for Every Student? It Ain't Going to Happen" (1999, p. 3). According to the NTIA, only about 1.3% of elementary and secondary educational expenditures are allocated to the acquisition of instructional technology (McKissack, 1998). To furnish every public school student with his or her own computer would reportedly raise that sum two or three times. For most school districts, however, financial restraints are ensured by the resistance of taxpayers, particularly property tax payers, to the increase in school budgets that would be required to fully implement ambitious plans for integrating technology into all public school classrooms. "For the typical school district administrator who is looking at a budget that had nothing left over once salaries, building maintenance, instructional materials, and miscellaneous items are deducted, it (the goal of a school computer for every student) seems impossible —which, of course, it is!" (Johnson, 1999, p. 2). In the face of the large costs entailed in bringing technology into public schools and taxpayer resistance to footing these bills, the American educational system’s reliance Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
  57. 57. 43 upon local property tax necessarily yields gross inequalities. Many school districts do not have an adequate tax base relative to the number of students within their boundaries, and by definition, low-income and disadvantaged minority group students are over­ represented in these poor school districts. By contrast, some Local Education Agencies, (LEAs) have extensive local property tax bases relative to the size of their public school student populations, and can therefore afford the outlays required to bring their schools into the Information Age. These comparatively rich districts generally have very low proportions, if any, of low-income and/or minority group students. The system of public education funding in the United States is therefore highly unequal. “When a system's structure is already very unequal, it is likely that when an innovation is introduced (especially if it is a relatively high-cost innovation), the consequences will lead to even greater inequality” (Rogers, 1995, p. 436). The net result is that "computers and telephone access seem very much a luxury to poor families and poor school districts, who regularly grapple with putting nutritious food on the table and certified teachers in the classroom" (Gamer & Gillingham, 1996, p. 16). Disadvantaged public school students suffer unequal access to technology because they attend schools in the districts of poor communities. Deficits in infrastructure and the cost of maintaining computers and obtaining Internet access represent a major hurdle in any effort to narrow the Digital Divide. In their survey of 58 public schools, Gunderson and Anderson (1999) found that every school had computers, but about 60% lacked the technology needed to access the Internet (p. 7). Johnson commented in 1994: Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.

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