Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reaching ALL students with eGames

I thought we (by "we" I mean the collection of educators and schools nationwide) were doing fairly well. We seemed to have gotten over the hurdle of computers in the classrooms. It even seemed like more and more students had computers, and Internet access, in their homes as well. My middle school, which has a hugely diverse population, both ethnically and socio-economically, has two computer labs of 36 stations each, plus four laptop carts of 16 computers each, plus 1-5 computers in many classrooms. Then I took a position at the district office and quickly found out that my middle school is the only one of the 22 schools in the district with computers resources to that degree. I lucked out when I landed at the one school in the district that has been making technology a priority for over ten years. None of the other three middle schools have computers labs, only laptop carts and only two of those. None of the elementary schools have computers labs, some don't even have a laptop cart.

So, that's my small district, what about San Diego Unified School District? According to the EdTech Profile for 2006-2207, SDUSD:
  • Has about 1 computer for every 4 students.
  • Over 50% of the computers are over 4 years old.
  • The number of computers planned to be retired outnumbers the number of computers expected to be added this year.
  • 65% of the computers are located in the classroom as opposed to 15% in computer labs, and 15% in libraries. I wonder how many of the computers in the classrooms are collecting dust.
What about the students in their homes?
  • Of the 160 seventh and eighth grade students I had last year, 17% of them did not have access to a computer or the Internet at home. Sounds pretty good, right? Well...
  • Of those students without access, 81% of them are Hispanic, yet only 44% of our school student body is Hispanic.
  • Of those students without access, over half are on the free/reduced lunch program, indicating a low socio-economic status.
  • Of the five black students that I had last year, three of them did not have access to a computer or the Internet at home.
Yikes! Maybe we should work more on providing access to all students so our wonderfully designed eGames can reach ALL students. Any ideas? Has anyone seen any programs that work?

Here are a couple of articles:
"Digital Divide" affects student success
Digital divide in schools: Student access to and use of computers


At 7:54 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Koreen, great post. You know, I had worked in the same district as you did for about 2 years. I can remember my 2nd grade class (we were the lowest performing elementary school in the district) and what a disparate group of computers we had access to. We had five computers total, and each one was a different make and model. Yet, all were not nearly what would be necessary to play many of the wonderful games that have been the focus of our own work, or shared on this blog.

Wouldn't it be nice to have free wi-fi access, like in San Francisco? Or a laptop for every student, like the new pilot program in New York City?

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Ruth Maas said...

Koreen, fantastic post! Could you please get me the references for your data because those stats are powerful. I would also like to know where I could find the same data for my school district.

I agree that there is a need for more up-to-date equipment in our schools so that all students can have access to computers. Otherwise there will be a widening gap between the students who have internet access at home, and those who do not.


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