Access to Information

This topic is very meaningful to me as a teacher and it’s something I struggle with daily in my classroom. Equity in technology for families.

The more I learn about technology and it’s many uses in the classroom, the more I want to extend these opportunities to my students. I find useful tools, helpful websites or apps, and methods of communication and involvement for parents. These are all things that I find very exciting and I have the urge to share with the parents of my students. However, this excitement comes with an awareness that not all of my students have access to the technology at home that I’m recommending.

At the beginning of each school year, my team and myself send home a letter. This letter is an opportunity for parents to share with us information about their child. The last question we pose in this letter is always the same. “Do you have access to a computer at home?”

Almost every family says yes (at least, within the population that I’m teaching). However, there’s always a couple of parents that say no. It’s frustrating as an educator to know that the further entrenched we become in using technology day to day in the classroom, the harder it is for me to accommodate those families that don’t have access. I love that technology gives me the ability to assign homework such as:

“Get on Google Docs and finish your essay, I’ll comment on your work by Saturday for you to revise before school Monday”

Or

“Complete 3 interactive science quizzes on Study Jams”. 

These homework assignments have so much potential to be more than just busywork. Having my students use technology at home allows me so many more opportunities as a teacher to extend my students’ learning beyond the classroom.

I do understand that I can’t blame the families for the lack of access. This is where my frustration comes to a peak. It isn’t the parents’ fault that they can’t always afford pricey technology in their homes.

The right to information should be a basic human right. We have so much information online, we can educate ourselves. No longer can only a select few have access to information. Everyone can access it and everyone should be able to. The fact that some families don’t have this type of access because corporate greed has kept them from it is infuriating.

That’s where I come to the daily struggle I spoke of at the beginning of this post. I want my students to extend their learning and technology use beyond my classroom. However, I can’t fault the students that don’t have access to these same tools. Lack of access is increasing the already visible gap between classes and races in academic achievement.

This is the space in the blog where I would normally provide a solution, but as of right now I don’t see a feasible option in the future. However, if I take a minute to embrace an idyllic world, this is what I would envision: free, worldwide WiFi access.

This is a dream that many have pursued but has yet to become a reality. Though it wouldn’t help all families who can’t afford devices, it lends itself toward my main point.

The right to information is a new human right. We need to make sure as a society that everyone has access to information and technology.

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2 thoughts on “Access to Information

  1. Taneal says:

    Our district is working a way on finding a solution. I know they want the whole city of Everett to have access. Maybe it needs to be a trickle effect like this where it goes from one city onto the next. Somebody will think of a brilliant idea on how to do it. People really like purchasing things that give back to others. I am thinking if somebody created a business where when they purchased a device like a macbook a device would be donated to a low poverty family.

    Like

  2. janevangalen says:

    I don’t know if they still do it, but Shoreline used to give each kid from junior high a macbook. It didn’t solve the problem of internet access but kids had powerful devices as a matter of course.

    I’m thrilled that there are 21 of us in this class thinking even a bit more carefully about equity this quarter. I’m pretty confident that 21 smart and caring people can start working towards solutions, one step at a time. In this tech -rich region, this should not be this hard.

    Like

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