Social equity in the primary classroom

In my current classroom I have the following ICT arrangements:
  • 3 desk top computers (one of which has been broken all year)
  • no iPads
  • 1 Interactive SmartBoard (which only works as a project because it won't calibrate) 
  • A school laptop (teacher's version - about 3 years old)
  • 1 teachers' iPad
  • and 12 student laptops which I share with the class next door.
I have 30 students, most of whom have English as a Second Language (EAL/D) to varying degrees and my school is state run, situated in a lower-middle socio-economic area. Next year all of my students will have their own iPads that their parents have bought them (that is MOST will have an iPad - those whose parents can afford one will, those that cannot will share a school iPad).

My situation is by no means unique. In fact, I consider myself lucky to teach in such a good school with access to some of these resources. However, I'm reminded of a short thesis I wrote and presented for my Masters course work in 2011 on digital equity.

What is digital equity?

Digital equity is the social inclusion through universal access to ICTS within the classroom (Voogt & Knezek, 2008). 

Let's speak in real terms here though not academic/policy speak. 

Having access to ICTs in the classroom is a distinct advantage in the primary classroom.

Studies have shown that students in lower socio-economic urban schools have limited interaction with ICTs (that is less than once a week) compared to their counterparts in middle to higher socio-economic urban schools (for rural and remote communities ICT usage is variable but more often than not limited). 

This digital divide creates social injustice, which, according to Vrasidas, Zembylas & Glass (2009) creates impediments that prevent equal participation by all students in everyday life.

So what can you do?

So you think you're just a classroom teacher without any direct ability to close the gap? Think again. 

Let's take the scenario of limited access to ICTs  in the classroom. The research suggests you can do the following:

  • Design Inquiry style projects such as using ICTs to research (Google), manipulate (PowerPoint/3D Toad) and present information (vlog/blog) to cater for a diversity of learning styles.
  • Provide clear rules about how to use equipment and reference information/sources.
  • Move students from lower to higher order thinking activities with ICTs through typing/cutting and pasting to manipulating and creating new ways to present data.
  • Ensure students feel a sense of ownership about how ICTs are used in the classroom.
As I integrate iPads into my classroom next year I will post many more 'How to's...' with more specific instructions. However, to explore each of the strategies listed above in more detail click the link below to watch the video presentation on how to close the gab with the digital divide in your classroom.

"Digital pedagogy has the ability to improve educational outcomes for all students and break the poverty cycle by creating active and engaged citizens"

The following products provide a great starting point for students wanting to use PowerPoint to create interactive multi-modal presentations...

Perfect for early years - play this PowerPoint in the classroom to engage your students with their Smartboard and the concepts of addition.

This PowerPoint uses animation, sound and images to explore The Rain Came Down by David Shannon.

No comments